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Notice

Commercial Driver's License: Oregon Department of Transportation; Application for Renewal of Exemption

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AGENCY:

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), DOT.

ACTION:

Notice of renewal of exemption; request for comments.

SUMMARY:

FMCSA announces its decision to renew the Oregon Department of Transportation's (ODOT) exemption from the commercial learner's permit (CLP) requirements in 49 CFR part 383. All State Driver's Licensing Agencies (SDLAs) are allowed to use this exemption at their discretion. The exemption will allow ODOT and participating SDLAs to extend to one year the 180-day timeline for the CLP from the date of issuance, without requiring the CLP holder to retake the general and endorsement knowledge tests. Under the exemption, an applicant wishing to have a new CLP after the previous one expires will be required to take all applicable tests before a new CLP is issued.

DATES:

The renewed exemption is from April 5, 2018 to April 5, 2019. Comments must be received on or before May 4, 2018.

ADDRESSES:

You may submit comments identified by Federal Docket Management System Number FMCSA-2015-0397 by any of the following methods:

  • Federal eRulemaking Portal: www.regulations.gov. Follow the online instructions for submitting comments.
  • Fax: 1-202-493-2251.
  • Mail: Docket Management Facility, U.S. Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, West Building, Ground Floor, Room W12-140, Washington, DC 20590-0001.
  • Hand Delivery or Courier: West Building, Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. E.T., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.

Instructions: All submissions must include the Agency name and docket number. For detailed instructions on submitting comments and additional information on the exemption process, see the Public Participation heading below. Note that all comments received will be posted without change to www.regulations.gov, including any personal information provided. Please see the Privacy Act heading below.

Docket: For access to the docket to read background documents or comments received, go to www.regulations.gov at any time and in the box labeled “SEARCH for” enter FMCSA-2015-0397 and click on the tab labeled “SEARCH.”

Privacy Act: In accordance with 5 U.S.C. 553(c), DOT solicits comments from the public to better inform its rulemaking process. DOT posts these comments, without edit, including any personal information the commenter provides, to www.regulations.gov, as described in the system of records notice (DOT/ALL-14 FDMS), which can be reviewed at www.dot.gov/​privacy.

Public Participation: The Federal eRulemaking Portal is available 24 hours each day, 365 days each year. You can get electronic submission and retrieval help and guidelines under the “help” section of the Federal eRulemaking Portal website. If you want us to notify you that we received your comments, please include a self-addressed, stamped envelope or postcard, or print the acknowledgement page that appears after submitting comments online.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Mr. Thomas Yager, Chief, FMCSA Driver and Carrier Operations Division; Office of Carrier, Driver and Vehicle Safety Standards; Telephone: 614-942-6477. Email: MCPSD@dot.gov. If you have questions on viewing or submitting material to the docket, contact Docket Services, telephone (202) 366-9826.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Public Participation and Request for Comments

FMCSA encourages you to participate by submitting comments and related materials.

Submitting Comments

If you submit a comment, please include the docket number for this notice (FMCSA-2015-0397), indicate the specific section of this document to which the comment applies, and provide a reason for suggestions or recommendations. You may submit your comments and material online or by fax, mail, or hand delivery, but please use only one of these means. FMCSA recommends that you include your name and a mailing address, an email address, or a phone number in the body of your document so the Agency can contact you if it has questions regarding your submission.

To submit your comment online, go to www.regulations.gov and put the docket number, “FMCSA-2015-0397” in the “Keyword” box, and click “Search.” When the new screen appears, click on “Comment Now!” button and type your comment into the text box in the following screen. Choose whether you are submitting your comment as an individual or on behalf of a third party and then submit. If you submit your comments by mail or hand delivery, submit them in an unbound format, no larger than 81/2 by 11 inches, suitable for copying and electronic filing. If you submit comments by mail and would like to know that they reached the facility, please enclose a stamped, self-addressed postcard or envelope. FMCSA will consider all comments and material received during the comment period and may continue this exemption or not based on your comments.

II. Legal Basis

FMCSA has authority under 49 U.S.C. 31136(e) and 31315 to grant exemptions from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. FMCSA must publish a notice of each exemption request in the Federal Register (49 CFR 381.315(a)). The Agency must provide the public an opportunity to inspect the information relevant to the application, including any safety analyses that have been conducted. The Agency must also provide an opportunity for public comment on the request.Start Printed Page 14546

The Agency reviews the safety analyses and the public comments, and determines whether granting the exemption would likely achieve a level of safety equivalent to, or greater than, the level that would be achieved by the current regulation (49 CFR 381.305). The decision of the Agency must be published in the Federal Register (49 CFR 381.315(b)) with the reason for the grant or denial, and, if granted, the specific person or class of persons receiving the exemption, and the regulatory provision or provisions from which the exemption is granted. The notice must also specify the effective period of the exemption (up to 5 years), and explain the terms and conditions of the exemption. The exemption may be renewed (49 CFR 381.300(b)).

III. Application for Renewal Exemption

ODOT's initial exemption application from the provisions of 49 CFR 383.25(c) and 49 CFR 383.73(a)(2)(iii 2) was submitted in 2015; a copy of the application is in the docket identified at the beginning of this notice. That application describes fully the nature of ODOT's CLP operations. The exemption was originally granted on April 5, 2015 (81 FR 19703) and is valid through April 5, 2018.

ODOT requests renewal of an exemption from the Agency's CLP requirements in 49 CFR 383.25(c) and 49 CFR 383.73(a)(2)(iii 2). The regulations provide that the CLP be valid for no more than 180 days from the date of issuance. The State may renew the CLP for an additional 180 days without requiring the CLP holder to retake the general and endorsement knowledge tests. ODOT proposed that it be allowed to extend the 180-day timeline to one year for CLPs issued to its drivers. The requested exemption renewal is for one year.

ODOT provided multiple reasons for regulatory relief from the CLP rule in its initial application. First, ODOT believes that the 180-day time line required to renew the CLP adds nothing to the effectiveness of the rule itself, the purpose of which is to “enhance safety by ensuring that only qualified drivers are allowed to operate commercial vehicles on our nation's highways” (76 FR 26854, May 9, 2011). ODOT asserts that neither FMCSA staff nor the States were able to identify any highway safety enhancement arising from this requirement. ODOT states that it is unaware of any data suggesting that persons who have not renewed their CLP or obtained their CDL within six months pose less risk on the Nation's highways.

Second, ODOT agrees that requiring CLP holders to retake the knowledge test after not obtaining a CDL within one year improves highway safety, but disagrees that the requirement for renewal at six months is needed. According to ODOT, if the exemption is granted, ODOT's CLP would have a validity period of one year with no renewal allowed. All applicable knowledge tests would be required before a new CLP could be issued, which would accomplish the objective of not allowing a person to have a CLP longer than one year without passing knowledge tests.

The third reason for the request is that Oregon's “Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) field offices have a very large volume of work to accomplish and, at best, limited resources with which to accomplish it. Adding the bureaucratic requirement for a CLP holder to visit a DMV office and pay a fee in order to get a second six months of CLP validity will add unnecessary workload to offices already stretched to the limit. ODOT is confident there would be no negative impact on safety if the exemption is granted.”

According to ODOT, “If this exemption is not granted, Oregon drivers with CLPs who have not passed the CDL skills test within six months of CLP issuance would have to go to a DMV office and pay for a renewal of the CLP. This would cause undue hardship to the drivers, from the perspectives of both their time and their pocketbooks. It would also cause undue hardship to our agency, where scarce resources would be used to process bureaucratic transactions that add nothing to highway safety.”

In addition, because the issues concerning ODOT's request could be applicable in each State, all SDLAs are allowed to use this exemption renewal at their discretion. Extending the exemption to cover all SDLAs, at their discretion, will preclude the need for other SDLAs choosing to use the exemption to file identical exemption requests. FMCSA believes that safety would not be diminished by allowing a validity period of one year for the CLP. The maximum time allowed between taking the knowledge tests and obtaining the CDL is 12 months under the current rule and under the exemption. The exemption avoids the necessity of obtaining a renewal of the CLP after 6 months if the State chooses to allow that. FMCSA determined that the exemption would maintain a level of safety equivalent to, or greater than, the level achieved under the current regulation (49 CFR 381.305(a)).

Start Signature

Issued on: March 28, 2018.

Raymond P. Martinez,

Administrator.

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[FR Doc. 2018-06860 Filed 4-3-18; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 4910-EX-P