CDL fraud could rise under relaxed requirements, from FreightWaves, January 14, 2021.
Tractor trailers and automobiles may share the roadways, but not everybody has the right to drive in the proverbial truck lane.

Obtaining a commercial driver’s license (CDL) is a rite of passage for any driver eager to traverse the wide world of logistics. However, this rite isn’t a right — it must be earned.
As the trucking industry continues to grapple with a driver shortage as well as coronavirus-related delays in CDL issuance, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued a final rule in December to lessen the difficulty in obtaining a CDL. The ruling came in response to complaints that the knowledge and skills testing standards were too restrictive. Federal regulators hope that relaxing the rules will provide states more flexibility to test CDL applicants and allow more drivers to safely enter the industry.

The rule change may net more drivers for the industry, but will the propensity for CDL fraud increase as well? That’s the concern of Reliance Partners’ Director of Safety Brian Runnels, who believes federal regulators may be jumping the gun and that the rule change probably won’t do much to bring drivers into the industry.

“I think they’re placing a small Band-Aid on a much bigger problem, which is that the industry isn’t attracting drivers at a rate greater than those leaving,” Runnels said. “Does there need to be something to fix the testing process? Probably. Is it this? I have my reservations.”

The final rule allows third-party CDL skills instructors to perform both the instruction and the qualifying testing for the same applicant — an arrangement that was previously prohibited. States on an individual basis can now allow qualified third-party skills trainers access to both areas of testing.

The final rule goes into effect 60 days after it is published in the Federal Register.
Runnels isn’t alone in voicing his concern. For instance, The Truckload Carriers Association noted that “enforcement will be necessary to eliminate the possibility for fraud by bad actors who simply want to profit monetarily from the new regulatory flexibility.” Overall, TCA is onboard with the rule change despite its reservations.

In response to the criticism of TCA and others, FMCSA stated that it “continues to believe that lifting the restriction … will not diminish highway safety. Extensive requirements and resources are currently in place to help FMCSA and the states maintain the integrity of the process and identify irregularities in skills testing.”

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