WASHINGTON — The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has published a final rule — effective for drivers in 60 days — amending the commercial driver’s license (CDL) knowledge and skills testing standards, and establishing new minimum federal standards for states to issue the commercial learner’s permit (CLP).

The final rule requires that a CLP holder meet virtually the same requirements as those for a CDL holder, meaning that a driver holding a CLP will be subject to the same driver disqualification penalties that apply to a CDL holder.

The final rule requires:

  • Successful completion of the knowledge test — currently a prerequisite for the CDL — prior to issuance of a CLP.
  • States to use FMCSA pre-approved driver and examiner reference materials, state testing questions and exercises, and state testing methodologies.
  • A prohibition on the use of foreign language interpreters in the administration of the knowledge and skills tests to reduce the potential for fraud.
  • Each driver applicant obtain a CLP and hold it for a minimum of 14 days before applying for a CDL.
  • A minimum age of 18 for issuance of a CLP.
  • The CLP be a separate document from the CDL, and that it be tamperproof and include the same information as the CDL.
  • Bus operator CLP endorsements be limited to a restricted passenger endorsement and/or a school bus endorsement. Also, states must use standardized endorsement and restriction codes on CDLs.
  • That states, prior to issuing a CLP, perform a check of the driver’s previous driving record to ensure the driver is not subject to the sanctions based on previous motor vehicle violations. If the state discovers the driver is subject to such sanctions, it must refuse to issue a CLP to the driver.
  • States verify the applicant’s Social Security number with the Social Security Administration.
  • Limited initial and renewal periods for CLPs and CDLs.
  • Motor carriers to prohibit using a driver who does not hold a current and appropriate CLP or CDL.

Click here to read the final rule published by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

By Vic Baffoni

Bus Vice President

UTU-represented bus operators and mechanics can take great pride in their accomplishments the first half of 2008, but there remain many hurdles to overcome.

The final DOT rule on drug and alcohol testing for holders of a commercial driver’s license (CDL) goes into effect Aug. 25. DOT ordered that all specimens be tested for validity, which means adulterants and urine substitutes. Also, observed collections will now be required, rather than be an option, for all return-to-duty and follow-up testing.

Holders of CDLs and commercial learner permits (CLPs) face many tougher rules, and the UTU will be there every step of the way to protect the rights of its bus members.

We still have numerous contracts to negotiate before the end of the year, and there also are many pending arbitration cases. This office has an open-door policy: Any UTU officer is encouraged to call my office for assistance anytime.

Thanks go out to Alternate Vice President-East Rich Deiser for his excellent handling of the TNM&O merger and acquisition by Greyhound. Brother Deiser negotiated rights for our former members, which included dovetailed seniority, benefit protections and additional work assignments, ensuring important protections as part of their movement into the Amalgamated Transit Union.

It is good news to see reports of sharp increases in bus ridership across America as soaring gasoline prices force a shift from automobiles to public transportation. The bad news is that transit agencies are saying they cannot dramatically increase bus service anytime soon because of rising fuel costs. The UTU is urging all levels of government to increase spending on public transportation.

By Vic Baffoni,
Vice President, Bus

Congratulations to officers and members of Local 1589, New Brunswick, N.J., on a new contract that includes improved wages and benefits.

The UTU International is working with members of Local 1697, employed by TNM&O Coaches in Texas, following the carrier’s sale to Greyhound. We intend to protect their assignments and seniority.

We are monitoring proposed revisions by the FMCSA of CDL testing standards, and new minimum standards for commercial learner’s permits (CLPs).

The revisions would require successful completion of the knowledge test before issuance of a CLP, and prohibit use of foreign language interpreters.

Applicants would be required to hold a CLP at least 30 days before applying for a CDL, and an issuing state would be required to check the applicant’s driving record, plus verify Social Security numbers and proof of legal U.S. residency.

Drivers applying for a new or upgraded CDL would be required to successfully complete minimum classroom and behind-the-wheel training from an accredited program.

States would be required to recognize CLPs issued by other states, and use standardized endorsement and restriction codes on CDLs.

Drivers would not be permitted to operate a commercial motor vehicle without holding a current CLP or CDL, or to operate a vehicle in violation of the restrictions on the CLP or CDL.

The proposed revisions have been provided to state legislative directors, who will be in contact with bus property general chairpersons.