Legislation introduced to streamline truck driver credentialing process

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Trucking news and briefs for Thursday, Feb. 3, 2022:

Two bills introduced to ease entry burden for truck drivers

Two pieces of legislation were introduced in the Congress this week that would streamline the credentialing process for truck drivers.

One bill, the Transportation Security Administration Security Threat Assessment Application Modernization Act, was introduced by Reps. Adam Smith (D-Washington) and John Katko (R-New York). If passed, it would allow truck drivers to use one valid background check from a TSA Security Threat Assessment to satisfy the requirements for participation in any TSA program, including the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC), Hazardous Materials Endorsement and PreCheck programs.

The second bill, the Licensing Individual Commercial Exam-takers Now Safely and Efficiently Act, or LICENSE Act, would make permanent two waivers issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration seven times over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under the provisions of the bill, third-party CDL skills test examiners would be permitted to administer a state's CDL knowledge test, in addition to the skills test. It would also allow states to administer the driving skills test to out-of-state CDL applicants regardless of where they received their training. Finally, the legislation would allow commercial learners permit holders who have already passed the required CDL skills test, but who have not yet received their physical credentials, to drive with a CDL holder anywhere in the truck, rather than requiring them to sit in the front seat next to the qualified CLP holder.

The LICENSE Act was introduced in the House by Reps. Darin LaHood (R-Illinois), Troy Balderson (R-Ohio), Josh Harder (D-California) and Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), and in the Senate by Sens. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyoming) and Mark Kelly (D-Arizona).

The American Trucking Associations lauded the introduction of both bills.

"With a shortage of roughly 80,000 drivers, we should be making the process of becoming a professional truck driver as user friendly as possible," said ATA President and CEO Chris Spear. "By making common sense changes to the CDL testing process and eliminating redundant background checks, we can cut red tape so these hardworking men and women can get on the road navigating our nation's highways instead of navigating its bureaucracies."

FMCSA issues guidance regarding third-party CDL testers

In regulatory guidance that takes effect Thursday, Feb. 3, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration satisfied one of the provisions of the LICENSE Act introduced in Congress this week (see above).

In its guidance, FMCSA explains that its current statutory authorities and regulations do not prohibit third-party testers from administering the CDL knowledge tests for all classes and endorsements.

The agency says state driver’s license agencies (SDLAs) can accept the results of knowledge tests administered by third-party testers.

The updated guidance was prompted by an April 2020 request from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles to allow non-government third-party testers to administer knowledge tests due to the closure of DMV locations at the time because of COVID-19.

In response to the Virginia DMV’s request, FMCSA indicated that applicable statutes and regulations do not currently prohibit states from allowing a third party to administer CDL and CLP knowledge tests.

Previous guidance first issued in 1993 and reissued in 2019 said that third-party testers could only administer knowledge tests if an authorized state employee was present.

FMCSA said it has reconsidered the guidance and concluded that nothing in its current authorities prohibits states from allowing third-party testers to administer CDL knowledge tests.

FMCSA noted that the updated guidance is intended only to provide clarity to the public regarding existing requirements under the law.

Averitt sets company record with donation to St. Jude

Setting a company record for its largest-ever contribution, truck drivers and other employees of Averitt Express (CCJ Top 250, No. 30) raised $1,050,001 in 2021 for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

The amount is $50,000 more than Averitt’s previous record. The increase is in honor of Averitt’s 50-year anniversary. This also marks the third consecutive year Averitt has donated more than $1 million to St. Jude, and it’s the seventh consecutive year Averitt employees have either matched or broken a fundraising record.

The milestone was made possible by weekly contributions from Averitt employees participating in Averitt Cares for Kids, the company’s charitable employee-giving program. More than 95% of Averitt associates are members of Averitt Cares for Kids, giving $1 per week to help St. Jude and other important causes. In addition to employee contributions, the company makes contributions to Averitt Cares for Kids in honor of associates’ accomplishments, life events, and participation in community service projects.

Since Averitt Cares for Kids began in 1987, it has contributed close to $13 million overall to numerous charities, including more than $10 million to St. Jude. Averitt Cares for Kids completed a $1.5 million endowment to help fund the initial construction of the St. Jude Leukemia and Lymphoma Clinic in the hospital.

Montgomery honors late driver

Montgomery Entities, parent company of Birmingham, Alabama-based flatbed carrier Montgomery Transport, among others, is remembering truck driver Shane Macon's life by providing support to his family through the sale of his Peterbilt truck.

Macon, one of the first employees at RM Logistics, one of the Montgomery transportation companies, passed away in September 2021. 

In 2018, Macon was named RM Logistics Driver of the Year and as part of that award, he received a brand new 2019 Peterbilt 389, which he described as his “pride and joy”.  After Macon’s death, the Montgomery companies paid tribute to his life with a final ride from their terminal to Forest Crest Cemetery in Birmingham, where he was laid to rest.

Macon’s RM Logistics Driver of the Year Peterbilt led the procession, driven by his dear friend and colleague, Jerry Williams, and followed by several of his closest teammates as well as motorcycles, riding having been one of Macon’s passions. 

RM Logistics sold the Peterbilt last week and donated the earnings to Macon's estate, which will assist his five children.

Macon started his career in 2008 with Rollins Montgomery before joining RM Logistics as one of the company's first employees in 2010.

“Shane was a fantastic driver, as well as one of the company's most loyal and hardworking employees and a close friend to many,” said Rollins Montgomery of the Montgomery Entities. “I’ve seen a lot of heartfelt things in my career, but the presence of the drivers and riders for Shane’s final ride says a lot about Shane. It is a true honor to be able to recognize Shane as one of the company's first employees and to now assist him in providing for his children. He is sorely missed.”