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Werner asks for CLP exemption to speed up employment process amidst ‘generational driver shortage’

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Werner Enterprises has asked the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) for an exemption from Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP) requirements in order to improve freight operations for the company and hasten the process of getting new drivers behind the wheel.

Last month, Nebraska-based carrier Werner Enterprises petitioned the FMCSA for relief from the requirement that a CLP holder be accompanied by a CDL holder, seated in the front seat, while the commercial motor vehicle is being driven by the CLP holder.

Werner is asking the FMCSA to allow their CLP holders who have passed their CDL skills test to drive without a CDL holder in the passenger seat “so that qualified drivers can move freight through the supply chain in an efficient manner during a generational driver shortage, which has caused unprecedented pressure on the trucking industry.

Werner says that they are able graduate about 6500 student drivers per year through partnership with Roadmaster Drivers School and that these new drivers used to be issued a temporary CDL upon completion of the CDL skills test, which the company says “made it possible for Werner to immediately designate a new driver as “on duty,” and direct him or her to the state of domicile to obtain CDL documentation without entering a second driver into an “on- duty” status. This, in turn, translated into immediate, productive freight movement for Werner and compensation for the new driver.”

Under current regulations, a temporary CDL is no longer issued, forcing Werner to “choose either to wait for the new driver to obtain a CDL from his or her home state before commencing freight movement in an “on duty” status or send the new driver home in an unproductive non-driving capacity.”

Werner argues that this “down time” causes a host of problems, including exacerbating cost and inefficiency problems for the carrier, presenting a financial hardship for the new driver, and causing possible degradation of the new driver’s professional skill set. The company argues that compliance is causing a significant operational burden.

In response to any questions over the safety of the proposed exemption, Werner argues that “There is no material difference between these drivers and all other professional truck drivers on the road. In fact, Werner notes that by allowing a CLP holder who has passed the CDL skills test to drive en route to a state of domicile with a CDL holder present in the vehicle, this exemption will improve safety over current regulations, which allow the new CDL holder to drive unsupervised immediately after receiving his or her CDL documentation. Werner will ensure this level of safety by maintaining proper, up-to-date records for all drivers in possession of a CLP who have passed the CDL skills test.”

The FMCSA will accept public comment on the exemption request when it publishes in the Federal Register on August 18.

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