FMCSA Lifts CDL Testing Restriction on Third Party Examiners Despite Concerns About Fraud
Washington D.C. – The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) will now allow States to permit a third party skills test examiner to administer the Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) skills test to applicants whom the examiner has also provided skills training.
In a final rule issued by the FMCSA on Thursday, the Agency said it believes that allowing States to permit this practice, which was previously prohibited under federal regulations, “may alleviate CDL skill testing delays and reduce inconvenience and cost for third party testers and CDL applicants, without negatively impacting safety.”
The Agency published its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on this issue in July 2019.
“Most commenters opposed the NPRM, citing concerns about fraud, conflict of interest, or examiner bias, should the restriction be lifted,” the Agency acknowledged.
However, after review, the FMCSA determined “this change is appropriate because other means of detecting fraud in CDL skills testing currently exist.”
The Agency further explained the rationale behind its decision:
States must establish and maintain a database to track the skills tests administered by each State and third party examiner; skills test examiners must be identified by name and identification number.
State-established databases must also track pass/fail rates of applicants tested by each State and third party skills test examiner (to detect examiners who have unusually high pass or failure rates), as well as dates and results of the States’ monitoring of third party testers and skills examiners.
The databases can be used by both FMCSA and SDLAs to identify and investigate potentially fraudulent testing.
The Agency monitors each State’s CDL program through Annual Performance Reviews and Skills Testing Reviews conducted in accordance with § 384.307.
If FMCSA determines that a State does not meet one or more of the minimum standards for substantial compliance under part 384, the State must correct the cited deficiencies, or explain why FMCSA’s determination of non-compliance is incorrect.
As part of this review process, the Agency evaluates the States’ compliance with the CDL regulations in parts 383 and 384, and is therefore able to identify potential problem areas in third party testing in a timely manner.
During the 5-year period beginning in 2014, FMCSA identified 16 States that were out of compliance with at least one provision
Additionally, the Agency emphasized that this final rule imposes no regulatory requirement on the States.
Simply put, States that do not currently allow third party testers are NOT required to do so as a result of this rule.
Instead, lifting the restriction simply permits States that currently authorize third party testing to allow skills test examiners to train and test the same individual, should the State decide to do so.
However, States choosing not to permit the same individual to train and test the applicant will now be required to accept skills test results from a State permitting the practice.
Notably, trucking groups such as the American Trucking Associations, Truckload Carriers Association, and Commercial Vehicle Training Association each voiced support for lifting the restriction.
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