U.S. Department of Transportation
Office of Public Affairs
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, July 31,
CDL Final Rule Toughens
Penalties Against Unsatisfactory
Continuing its efforts
to improve the safety of trucks and buses, the U.S. Department of
Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)
today issued a final rule that significantly strengthens the
licensing and sanctioning requirements of the commercial driver's
license (CDL) program for truck and bus drivers required to hold a
CDL. The rule is effective Sept. 30, 2002.
This final rule, which
implements provisions of the Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act of
1999, combines two CDL rulemakings proposed in
requirements for those who want to drive trucks and buses will help
ensure that our highways are safer," U.S. Transportation Secretary
Norman Y. Mineta said. "Only safe drivers should operate
trucks and buses, and this rule will help make that happen."
With this final rule,
FMCSA intends to make the CDL program more effective in preventing
dangerous truck and bus drivers from continuing to drive. It
strives to improve safety by improving the performance of drivers
and removing unsafe drivers from the road.
Within three years after
the rule's effective date, FMCSA will penalize states not in
substantial compliance with licensing and sanctioning requirements
of the CDL program by withholding Motor Carrier Safety Assistance
Program (MCSAP) money. MCSAP funds provide financial
assistance to states through federal grants.
The new rule allows
FMCSA to prohibit states that do not comply with this rule from
issuing, renewing, transferring, or upgrading CDLs and from issuing
hardship licenses to truck and bus drivers who lose their driving
privileges. States that comply with FMCSA CDL requirements
will be permitted to issue non-resident CDLs to drivers living in
states that have lost that privilege.
As a result of this
final rule, FMCSA may now disqualify commercial motor vehicle (CMV)
drivers who have been convicted of traffic violations while
operating a passenger vehicle that result in their license being
canceled, revoked or suspended, or of committing drug and
alcohol-related offenses while driving a passenger vehicle. It
also adds the following two new disqualifying offenses: driving a
CMV after a CDL was revoked, suspended or canceled for operating a
CMV; and causing a fatality through the negligent or criminal
operation of a CMV.
The regulation expands
the list of serious traffic violations to include drivers who fail
to obtain a CDL, driving a CMV without a CDL in the driver's
possession, and operating a CMV without proper class of CMV being
driven or type of cargo being transported. The regulation
authorizes FMCSA's Chief Safety Officer to disqualify, on an
emergency basis, CDL drivers who pose an imminent hazard, a
condition that presents a likelihood of death, serious personal
injury or substantial danger to the public.
The final rule requires
that applicants obtaining, transferring, or renewing a CDL tell
their state driver-licensing agency where they previously held motor
vehicle licenses. This enables the issuing agency to obtain a
candidate's complete driving record.
A new requirement in the
rule creates a new endorsement. Applicants wanting to operate a
school bus must pass knowledge and skills tests before receiving a
CDL for that purpose. States with school bus licensing
programs that currently meet or exceed FMCSA requirements may
continue to test and license school bus drivers.
The Commercial Vehicle
Safety Act (CMVSA) of 1986 established the CDL program and the
Commercial Driver's License Information System (CDLIS) to serve as a
clearinghouse and repository of CDL information and
traffic-conviction data. The CMVSA also requires state
personnel to ensure that drivers convicted of certain serious
traffic violations are prohibited from operating a CMV.
The final rule is on the
Internet and can be viewed by searching for docket numbers
FMCSA-2001-9709 and FMCSA-00-7382 at
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