Feds say better oversight needed of state CDL testing

Updated Jul 27, 2015

truck on highwayThe Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration needs to clarify and improve its oversight of state CDL testing, according to a new federal report.

After hearing from concerned stakeholders, Congress asked the Government Accountability Office to examine FMCSA oversight of state CDL programs. This month, revised U.S. regulations became effective, increasing safety standards and placing new requirements on states’ licensing agencies.

Industry leaders say prospective drivers could face testing delays and suggested increased use of third-party testers could help states meet the demand. Still, the U.S. DOT Inspector General concluded in 2012 that CDL fraud was especially at risk with third-party administration.

Twenty-nine of 50 states use both state testers and third-party testers to administer CDL driving skills tests. These states, along with 10 additional states that use only third-party testers, indicated using third parties increases availability of the driving skills tests. Eleven states and the District of Columbia do not use them use third parties for reasons that include perception of greater fraud risk.

State licensing agencies told the GAO that skills test appointments were typically available within two weeks and states with third party testers reported appointments usually were available within one week.

FMCSA established policy for overseeing states’ CDL compliance in 2013, including that the agency conduct periodic reviews, but some elements of this policy are unclear, the GAO said.

Additionally, the agency’s data system for tracking oversight activities does not easily provide accurate and complete information on oversight reviews because it is difficult to use for this purpose. As a result, FMCSA management does not receive complete and accurate information on what oversight reviews are completed and whether they are conducted per agency policy.

FMCSA reported it agreed with the GAO’s recommendations that it:

• Clarify policy on what oversight the agency should conduct regarding frequency and type of required and recommend reviews and how compliance determinations should be made and documented.

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• Improve or obtain a mechanism for tracking oversight activities and that these procedures comply with the agency’s oversight policy.