Daily dispatch, April 2: DOT allowing driver trainees to drive without CDL holder in front seat

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Trucking news and briefs for Thursday, April 2, 2020:

FMCSA allowing CLP holders to drive without CDL holder in front seat
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued a temporary waiver on March 28 for commercial learner’s permit holders, allowing them to drive commercial vehicles without a CDL holder in the front seat of the truck. A CDL holder still has to be present somewhere in the truck under the waiver, however.

The waiver also only applies to CLP holders who have “possession of evidence from the testing jurisdiction, including an authorized third-party tester, that the CLP holder has passed the CDL driving skills test,” the waiver says.

The waiver is effective through June 30.

“This waiver is in the public interest because it would allow drivers covered under this waiver to deliver essential supplies and persons across state lines to address the national emergency,” FMCSA says in the notice. “This waiver will also reduce the administrative burden on CLP holders during this national emergency.”

Medical examiner pleads guilty to falsifying DOT medical exams
Ronald E. Sherry, a physician’s assistant, pleaded guilty Feb. 27 to false entries and obstruction related to fraudulent medical exams of CDL holders.

The Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General says Sherry was an FMCSA-certified medical examiner authorized to conduct physicals for CDL applicants and holders.

An FMCSA review found that Sherry was conducting medical exams at a rate 10 times higher than the national average in 2016 and 2017. Court documents allege Sherry made false entries on federally required medical exam forms and transmitted those forms to FMCSA. The forms indicated Sherry conducted CDL medical exams when he had not.

Tanker group asks FMCSA to allow pulsating brake lights on trailers
FMCSA will publish in the Federal Register Thursday, April 2, a request from a group representing tanker haulers to allow the installation of a pulsating red or amber brake-activated light on the back of all tank trailers to increase visibility when braking.

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National Tank Truck Carriers announced in October it had filed the request with FMCSA. The agency will publish it Thursday, opening the request for public comments for 30 days.

Current regulations require all exterior lamps be steady-burning. FMCSA granted a similar exemption to tanker fleet Groendyke Transport in April 2019, allowing the carrier to install an amber brake-activated pulsating light in the upper center on the back of tanker trailers in addition to the steady-burning brake lights.

NTTC wants the Groendyke exemption to apply to all tanker trailers, while also giving the option for a red pulsating light instead of amber. NTTC’s request also asks that FMCSA allow the pulsating light to be installed in either the upper center or an upper dual outboard position.