Minnesota Asks FMCSA to Reconsider Request for CDL Testing Relief

truck testing
John Sommers II for Transport Topics

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Minnesota is making another attempt to gain reprieve from certain federal commercial driver license testing requirements, marking the continuation of a four-year effort for exemption.

Specifically, the state is seeking reconsideration of its previous application for exemption from certain regulations regarding CDL testing practices. In particular, Minnesota seeks permission to combine and shift certain steps of the testing process and exemption from a certain score sheet.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued a notice announcing Minnesota’s request, which was published in the Federal Register on Nov. 30.

Minnesota Fmcsa Cdl by Transport Topics

While states issue licenses to commercial motor vehicle operators, the federal government sets minimum requirements governing the issuance of these licenses.

Under federal regulations, the CDL skills test must be conducted in three parts in the following order: pre-trip inspection, vehicle control skills and on-road driving. Minnesota is asking permission to combine the second and third components, thus reducing the skills testing to two parts.

Additionally, Minnesota requests to be exempted from using the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators’ 2005 test model score sheet. It also requests exemption from the requirement that applicants pass the pre-trip inspection portion of the exam before proceeding to the remainder of the test.

“Minnesota believes it can deliver its CDL skills testing more efficiently in an alternative manner,” the Federal Register document states. “It asserts that its method of delivering skills testing will maintain the testing standards enumerated by the regulations.”

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Minnesota’s request for reconsideration stems from an exemption application that FMCSA denied in May 2017. FMCSA issued a notice requesting public comment on the exemption application in August 2016.

The petition for FMCSA’s reconsideration contains the same requests included in the original application for exemption. According to the Federal Register notice, Minnesota maintains that exam stations are located in residential and downtown areas with low speed limits, meaning that drivers travel at low speeds to locations where backing exercises are conducted after they complete the vehicle inspection.

“The basic controls segment consists of backing maneuvers with potential pull ups and is performed at very low speed,” the document states. “Consequently, drivers do not proceed to highway speeds prior to completing the basic control skills. Minnesota contends that the order in which the elements of the CDL test are conducted does not result in unsafe conditions or the operation of a CMV at highway speeds.”

During the comment period FMCSA held to get input on the initial application for exemption, the agency received 12 comments. Many opposed Minnesota’s request for relief from using the AAMVA score sheet. Most commenters also opposed permitting Minnesota to condense testing to two parts and to allow applicants who failed the initial portion of the test to proceed to on-road testing,

FMCSA has requested public comment on Minnesota’s latest application. Comments must be received by Dec. 30.

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