New Prime, part of national fleet Prime Inc. (No. 15 on the CCJ Top 250), has been granted an exemption by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to allow its pre-CDL drivers who have passed the CDL skills test to drive in team operations without a CDL holder in the front seat, as regulations require.
FMCSA says commercial learner’s permit holders who have documentation of passing the CDL skills test can drive for Prime as long as a CDL holder is in the truck, but not necessarily in the front seat.
In its request for public comments, the agency received 13 comments from individuals “in unanimous opposition to the request,” as well as a comment in opposition from the Owner-Operator Independent Driver’s Association. No commenters supported the exemption, FMCSA adds. Reasons commenters opposed the exemption included a reduction in safety, as well as the CDL holder not being able to supervise the CLP holder, therefore not being able to help the permit holder.
FMCSA refutes the opposition, stating CLP holders that have passed the CDL skills test “are qualified and eligible” to receive a CDL, and that if these drivers had obtained their training and CLPs in their home state, they would already have their CDLs and be able to drive without supervision. The agency adds there isn’t any data showing that having a CDL holder in the front seat with a pre-CDL driver who has passed the skills test improves safety.
The exemption will take effect when it is published in the Federal Register on Tuesday, June 27, and will be good for five years.
Earlier this month, FMCSA extended a similar exemption for C.R. England.