Truck Safety:

States' Progress in Testing and Licensing Commercial Drivers

RCED-90-78: Published: Mar 12, 1990. Publicly Released: Mar 12, 1990.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed federal and state efforts to implement the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1986.

GAO found that: (1) at least 33 states indicated that they would have difficulty testing and licensing commercial truck drivers by the April 1, 1992 deadline; (2) most states experienced problems in making computer changes needed to connect to the national driver information system; (3) the Federal Highway Administration (FHwA) did not develop specific action plans to ensure that states established commercial driver's license (CDL) programs and completed testing and licensing on time; (4) FHwA needed measures to ensure that drivers were not unduly penalized because states failed to meet the deadline; and (5) as of October 1989, only two states were testing and licensing commercial drivers under the new standards.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: FHwA notified states that testing and licensing could be separated and offered grant funds for this purpose. However, the notification was vague and many states may not interpret the instructions to mean that testing can begin before licensing. FHwA plans no further action. The April 1992 deadline for all drivers to be tested and licensed now provides FHwA insufficient time to take further action.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, FHwA, to encourage the states to begin their testing programs while they resolve difficulties in connecting to the national information system.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: FHwA has established CDL implementation teams to develop individual action plans and is actively working with the states to help them overcome problems encountered in implementing their programs.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, FHwA, to develop, in cooperation with each state, action plans to help ensure that each state completes testing and licensing by April 1992.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  3. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: FHwA told GAO that it considered it inappropriate to prepare plans to protect drivers not licensed. FHwA stated that enforcement is a state perogative and expects that states will be understanding with the drivers during a reasonable transition period.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should be prepared to protect drivers who may not be tested and licensed because their states did not meet the April 1992 deadline. The Secretary could use the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act's waiver authority to protect those drivers from fines and penalties until their states have completed testing and licensing.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

 

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