Trucking regulators want to eliminate a requirement that drivers provide their employers a list each year of their traffic violations, asserting that it overlaps with provisions that require carriers to obtain the same information.
In a proposed rule scheduled to be published in the Federal Register on Monday, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) stated it does not expect the change to affect safety because the carriers’ annual motor vehicle record (MVR) requirement “would continue to provide a reliable way for motor carriers to learn of their drivers’ convictions for traffic violations.”
Current regulations require that every driver employed by a motor carrier “prepare and furnish the motor carrier with a list of all violations of motor vehicle traffic laws and ordinances, other than violations involving only parking, of which the driver has been convicted or for which the driver has forfeited bond or collateral during that period,” according to FMCSA.
“When a driver does not have any violations to report, the driver is required to furnish a certification to that effect. The motor carrier must file the list of violations or certification of no violations in the driver’s qualification file.” Because carriers already conduct an annual inquiry and review of their drivers’ driving records, the violation list required of drivers would be eliminated.
Under the FMCA’s proposal, “changes would be made … to require motor carriers to make inquiries to each driver’s licensing authority where a driver holds or has held a motor vehicle operator’s license or permit.”
In addition, a change would be made in subsection 391.21 of federal motor carrier regulations, “Application for employment,” requiring each driver “to provide on the employment application the issuing driver’s licensing authority of each unexpired operator’s license or permit that has been issued to the driver so motor carriers could make the required inquiries.”
FMCSA’s proposal would also require that carriers request the MVR equivalent from Canadian and Mexican driver’s licensing authorities as well. This would have minimal effect on carriers, FMCSA stated, given that only an estimated 2% of commercial drivers operating in the U.S. are employed by Canadian-based companies and 0.5% by Mexican-based companies, representing a total of roughly 140,000 drivers.
FMCSA believes eliminating the listing requirement by drivers would save drivers money because of the time it takes to fill out a traffic violations list. Carriers would save money, FMCSA stated, because they would no longer have to file the lists in driver qualification files. The agency estimated $4 million per year in cost savings over 10 years.
Similar proposals were floated twice before, in 1994 and 1997, by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), FMCSA’s predecessor agency, but were rejected. Opposition in 1994 included concerns that the annual violation list required by drivers was the only requirement applicable to drivers of smaller commercial vehicles, according to FMCSA.
In 1997, those opposing the change contended that major improvements were needed in how state driver’s license agencies (SDLAs) collect and transmit data before carriers could rely solely on state driving records. “FHWA determined that it was in the best interest of safety” to retain the current standard, FMCSA noted in its current proposal.
“FHWA stated that, until the completeness and timeliness of state-based driver record information is substantially improved, it is important for motor carriers to obtain violation information from both the driver and state-based source to enable cross-verification of information.”
FMCSA argues, however, that since those two previous proposals, MVR distribution has become more reliable, citing a 2011 final rule requiring all states upgrade their computer systems.
“In addition, FMCSA has conducted outreach and education with courts and judges, which has improved the transmission of convictions from courts to SDLAs. Accordingly, there have been improvements in data collection and transmission that support this rulemaking at this time.”
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