The American Trucking Associations hailed the introduction of a pair of bills that will streamline the credentialing process for millions of professional truck drivers, easing a number of onerous and unnecessary burdens.
“With a shortage of roughly 80,000 drivers, we should be making the process of becoming a professional truck driver as user friendly as possible,” said ATA President and CEO Chris Spear. “By making common sense changes to the CDL testing process and eliminating redundant background checks, we can cut red tape so these hardworking men and women can get on the road navigating our nation’s highways instead of navigating its bureaucracies.”
The first of these bills, the Transportation Security Administration Security Threat Assessment Application Modernization Act, introduced by Reps. Adam Smith (D-Washington) and John Katko (R-New York), will allow drivers to use a single valid background check from a TSA Security Threat Assessment to satisfy the vetting requirements for participation in any TSA program, including the Transportation Worker Identification Credential, Hazardous Materials Endorsement and PreCheck programs.
“Since 9/11, the federal government has created a number of secure credentials for commercial drivers to ensure the safety and security of our country,” Spear said. “However, with multiple credentials comes increased bureaucracy and costs that professional drivers must navigate. By simply relieving drivers of duplicative background checks – and the fees associated with them – we can streamline the process and ease the burden on these hard-working, patriotic men and women.”
The second bill, the Licensing Individual Commercial Exam-takers Now Safely and Efficiently Act, or LICENSE Act, will make permanent two waivers issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration seven times over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under the LICENSE Act, third-party CDL skills test examiners are permitted to administer a state’s CDL knowledge test, in addition to the skills test. This provision gives license seekers additional avenues to take both required tests from a state-certified third-party, thus minimizing potential testing delays. Furthermore, the bill allow states to administer the driving skills test to out-of-state license seekers regardless of where they received their training. Lastly, the LICENSE Act allows commercial learners permit holders who have already passed the required CDL skills test, but who have not yet received their physical credentials, to drive with a CDL holder anywhere in the truck, rather than requiring them to sit in the front seat next to the qualified CLP holder. Making these waivers permanent will reduce regulatory burdens in the CDL testing process without compromising the safety of our roadways.
“From the onset of the pandemic, these waivers have reduced administrative burdens for Americans working towards obtaining their CDLs and pursuing careers in trucking. It makes sense to continue to allow drivers looking to get their CDLs to be able to do so as frictionlessly as possible, while also maintaining the safety standards required of license seekers,” said ATA Vice President of Safety Policy Dan Horvath.
The LICENSE Act was introduced in the House by Reps. Darin LaHood (R-Illinois), Troy Balderson (R-Ohio), Josh Harder (D-California) and Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), and in the Senate by Sens. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyoming) and Mark Kelly (D-Arizona).
“These simple, common sense changes will save drivers not just the time involved in submitting to multiple background checks or waiting to take their CDL tests, but potentially hundreds of dollars in fees,” Spear said. “We want to thank these Members of Congress for their foresight in introducing these important pieces of legislation and we urge Congress to swiftly adopt them.”