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February 24, 2020 1:45 PM, EST

UPS Requests Exemption for Driver-Trainees to Operate Doubles

UPSJohn Sommers II for Transport Topics

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced Feb. 24 that it is seeking comment on a 2019 request from United Parcel Service Inc. in which the carrier seeks a five-year renewable exemption from federal regulations in order to allow its driver-trainees with commercial learner permits to operate twin 28-foot trailers on public roads.

The move would afford driver-trainees behind-the-wheel skills training under the direct supervision of a driving instructor.

Current federal regulations do not allow an employer to have a driver without a learner’s permit or commercial driver license with the proper class or endorsements to operate a commercial motor vehicle with doubles or triples on public roads, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said.

The agency is seeking public comment on the UPS request for 30 days after posting in the Federal Register.

In its Jan. 23, 2019, exemption request letter to FMCSA, UPS said if the exemption is not granted, it would continue to provide driver-trainees with classroom training on doubles, but would be unable to provide on-road skills training during the initial training period.

UPS safety trainer

A UPS instructor conducts a safety training session. (UPS Inc.)

UPS estimated that, if granted, about 1,000 driver-trainees per year would be operating under the terms and conditions of the exemption.

“UPS is committed to helping drivers advance in their careers,” UPS wrote in its exemption request. “The exemption will ultimately make for a smoother and safer transition to tractor-trailer driving for those UPS associates who express an interest in being promoted to such a role. Absent the incentive, UPS associates could be discouraged from pursuing these opportunities.”

In requesting the exemption, UPS suggested the following terms to ensure that safety is maintained:

  •  Each driver with a CLP will receive a minimum 80 hours of training.
  •  Drivers must successfully pass a UPS written knowledge test similar to one that would be administered by the state to obtain a doubles/triples endorsement before beginning on-road skills training in doubles.
  •  Doubles skills training for drivers with CLPs will be provided in limited operating areas.
  •  During all phases of behind-the-wheel training (i.e., road and range), driver-trainees will have direct supervision (i.e., certified instructor).
  •  UPS will maintain a “satisfactory” safety rating.

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