FR Doc 03-26119
[Federal Register: October 16, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 200)]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
[FMCSA Docket No. FMCSA-2003-14652]
Commercial Driver's License Standards; Isuzu Motors America, Inc.
AGENCY: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), DOT.
ACTION: Notice of final disposition; granting of application for
SUMMARY: The FMCSA announces its decision to grant the Isuzu Motors
America, Inc. request for an exemption from the Federal commercial
driver's license (CDL) requirement in 49 CFR 383.23. The exemption is
for 31 Japanese engineers and technicians who will be test-driving
commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) for Isuzu. All of the individuals hold
a valid Japanese commercial driver's license and are specially trained
in driving CMVs in Japan. They normally work at Isuzu Motors Limited in
Japan where their duties involve developing, designing, and/or testing
engines for CMVs that will be manufactured, assembled, sold or
primarily used in the United States. The FMCSA believes that
enforcement of the terms and conditions of the exemption would ensure
that the level of safety for the drivers is equivalent to or greater
than the level of safety that would be achieved by complying with the
Federal regulations. The exemption would preempt inconsistent State
requirements applicable to interstate commerce.
DATES: The exemption is effective November 17, 2003. The exemption
expires October 17, 2003.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Teresa Doggett, Office of Bus and
Truck Standards and Operations, (202) 366-2990, FMCSA, Department of
Transportation, 400 Seventh Street, SW., Washington, DC 20590-0001.
Office hours are from 7:45 a.m. to 4:15 p.m., e.t., Monday through
Friday, except Federal holidays.
Section 4007 of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century
(TEA-21) (Public Law 105-178, 112 Stat. 107, now codified at 49 U.S.C.
31315 and 31136), requires the FMCSA to publish a notice in the Federal
Register for each exemption requested, explaining that the request has
been filed, provide the public with an opportunity to inspect the
safety analysis and any other relevant information known to the agency,
and provide an opportunity for public comment on the request. Prior to
granting a request for an exemption, the agency must publish a notice
in the Federal Register identifying the person or class of persons who
would receive the exemption, the provisions from which the person would
be exempt, the effective period, and all terms and conditions of the
exemption. The terms and conditions established by the FMCSA must
ensure that the exemption will likely achieve a level of safety that is
equivalent to, or greater than, the level that would be achieved by
complying with the regulation.
On December 8, 1998, the FMCSA published an interim final rule
implementing section 4007 of TEA-21 (63 FR 67600). The regulations at
49 CFR part 381 establish the procedures to be followed to request
waivers and to apply for exemptions from the FMCSRs, and the provisions
used to process them.
Isuzu Motors America, Inc. (Isuzu), a private motor carrier of
property as defined by 49 CFR 390, filed an application for an
exemption from the commercial driver s licensing rules in 49 CFR part
383, that would allow drivers Shintaro Moroi, Shigeru Takamatsu, Norio
Takeda, Takeshi Yamagishi, Satoru Amemiya, Toshiya Asari, Yasunori
Fujita, Shiro Fukuda, Tetsuya Hiromatsu, Kazunori Ligo, Masao Inoue,
Akihuro Kashiwakura, Kinya Kitamura, Tsuyoshi Koyama, Takao Kudo,
Wataru Kumakura, Yoshihiko Matsubara, Nobuyuki Miyazaki, Ryo Natsume,
Motoki Nishi, Takuo Nishi, Fumio Oota, Masuru Otsu, Toshimitsu Sato,
Kazuyoshi Shimamura, Masahito Suzuki, Yasuhito Tahara, Hiroyoshi
Takahashi, Takashi Tanabe, Takehito Yaguchi, and Tsutomu Yamazaki--to
test-drive CMVs within the United States. According to its application,
the drivers working for Isuzu hold current commercial driver's licenses
issued by the Japanese authorities. The drivers also meet testing and
driver qualification standards, including medical examinations, which
are comparable to State-issued CDLs. The Japanese-issued license
indicates that the drivers have the knowledge and skills necessary to
comply with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs). A
copy of the application for exemption is in the docket.
Isuzu seeks this exemption because the drivers it employs are
citizens and residents of Japan and the company needs their specialized
services before they could qualify for a CDL in the United States. It
does not anticipate any adverse safety impacts from this exemption due
to the fact that the Japanese authorities adhere to very strict
commercial driver testing and licensing procedures.
There will always be two qualified drivers in each motor vehicle.
The drivers employed by Isuzu are fully qualified CMV operators with
valid Japanese CDLs. The company ensures that the qualifications are
maintained and all current laws in Japan are followed. Due to strict
regulations in Japan for drivers holding Japanese CDLs, Isuzu believes
that it will achieve a greater level of safety than would be achieved
if it used United States drivers unfamiliar with its process for
testing, designing, and producing safe commercial vehicles.
Drivers applying to obtain a Japanese CDL must take both a
knowledge test and skills test before a license to operate CMVs is
issued. Prior to taking the tests, drivers are required to hold a
conventional driver's license for at least three years. The process for
obtaining a Japanese-issued commercial driver's license is very
rigorous and comprehensive, and Isuzu considers it to be comparable to,
or as effective as, the requirements in part 383 of the FMCSRs. Isuzu
believes it adequately assesses the driver's ability to operate CMVs in
the United States.
Once a Japanese driver is granted a commercial driver's license,
he/she is allowed to drive any CMV currently allowed on roads in Japan.
There are no limits to the types or weights of vehicles that may be
operated by the drivers. The drivers affected by the exemption will be
operating tractor-trailer units. These vehicles will be used for
transporting merchandise as a commercial activity. It is estimated that
each driver will drive approximately 5,000 miles on U.S. roads. The
drivers expect to operate CMVs through the states of Arizona,
California, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan,
Nebraska, Nevada, Ohio, Utah, and Wyoming.
Discussion of Comments
On April 30, 2003, the FMCSA published notice of its receipt of an
application from Isuzu on behalf of the above-referenced 31 drivers,
and requested comments from the public (67 FR 34515). The comment
period closed on May 30, 2003. The FMCSA received one comment, which is
from Michael D. Millard. Mr. Millard opposes granting Isuzu an
exemption from the CDL requirements regardless of the individuals'
engineering and mechanical abilities. Mr. Millard
believes that an important safety factor is that these drivers be
capable of operating commercial vehicles that have the steering wheel
on the left side of the vehicle. Commercial vehicles manufactured in
Japan are equipped with steering wheels that are operated from the
right side of the vehicle. Mr. Millard stated that the need to train
and qualify these drivers in left-side steering maneuvers should be
emphasized, since the vehicles being driven could cause a great deal of
damage to the public and to private property if involved in an
accident. Mr. Millard further stated that Isuzu could hire experienced
U.S. drivers to operate its test vehicles, or take the necessary
measures to train the Japanese drivers to obtain a CDL issued in the
FMCSA Response to Comments
Although the commenter opposed granting the exemption, the FMCSA
believes that granting the exemption to Isuzu would achieve a level of
safety that is equivalent to, or greater than, the level of safety that
would be achieved by complying with the FMCSRs.
The FMCSA believes the drivers for Isuzu have the knowledge and
skills necessary to safely operate CMVs in the U.S. The FMCSA
determined that the Japanese CDLs are comparable to the CDLs that are
issued from the various State licensing agencies in the U.S. CMV
drivers in both Japan and the U.S. are given extensive and
comprehensive knowledge and skills tests and must be medically
qualified before a commercial license is issued. There is no data to
suggest that a driver's ability to control and maneuver a vehicle in
traffic would be contingent upon the placement of the steering wheel in
the vehicle. These drivers have demonstrated that they can safely
operate a CMV with the steering wheel on the right-side of the vehicle
and there is no data to indicate they would be less safe operating CMVs
with the steering wheel on the left-side of the vehicle. Alternatively,
drivers of certain types of refuse trucks operated in residential
neighborhoods in the U.S. drive vehicles with dual steering wheels to
enable them to steer from either the left-or the right-side to expedite
the collection of garbage. There has been no indication that U.S.
drivers are less safe when they operate refuse trucks from the right-
side driving position versus the left-side.
Basis for FMCSA's Determination
The agency has determined that it is in the public's interest to
grant these exemptions because the drivers are over the age of 21
years, hold currently valid Japanese CDLs that allow them to drive such
vehicles in their home country, and have passed medical examinations
that are compatible with the agency's medical standards. The exemptions
are likely to achieve a level of safety that is equivalent to, or
greater than, the level of safety that would be obtained in the absence
of the exemptions because the drivers will meet all applicable FMCSRs,
except for having a State-issued CDL. Drivers, who meet license testing
and driver qualification standards, including medical examinations that
are compatible with U.S. standards and have behind-the-wheel experience
operating these vehicles, will operate the vehicles.
Under 49 U.S.C. 31315 and 31136(e), the FMCSA may grant an
exemption for a 2-year period if it finds ``such exemption would likely
achieve a level of safety that is equivalent to, or greater than, the
level that would be achieved absent such exemption.'' The statute also
allows the agency to renew exemptions at the end of the 2-year period.
Accordingly, the FMCSA has evaluated the exemption request on its
merit, and made a determination to grant the exemption to all of the
Terms and Conditions for the Exemption
After considering the comments to the docket and based upon its
evaluation of the application for an exemption, the FMCSA grants Isuzu
an exemption from the Federal commercial driver's license requirement
in 49 CFR 383.23 for 31 drivers--Shintaro Moroi, Shigeru Takamatsu,
Norio Takeda, Takeshi Yamagishi, Satoru Amemiya, Toshiya Asari,
Yasunori Fujita, Shiro Fukuda, Tetsuya Hiromatsu, Kazunori Ligo, Masao
Inoue, Akihuro Kashiwakura, Kinya Kitamura, Tsuyoshi Koyama, Takao
Kudo, Wataru Kumakura, Yoshihiko Matsubara, Nobuyuki Miyazaki, Ryo
Natsume, Motoki Nishi, Takuo Nishi, Fumio Oota, Masuru Otsu, Toshimitsu
Sato, Kazuyoshi Shimamura, Masahito Suzuki, Yasuhito Tahara, Hiroyoshi
Takahashi, Takashi Tanabe, Takehito Yaguchi, and Tsutomu Yamazaki--to
test-drive CMVs within the United States, subject to the following
terms and conditions: (1) That these drivers will be subject to drug
and alcohol testing, (2) that these drivers are subject to the same
driver disqualification rules under 49 CFR 383 and 391 that apply to
other CMV drivers in the U.S., (3) that these drivers keep a copy of
the exemption on the vehicle at all times, (4) that Isuzu notify FMCSA
in writing of any accident involvement by a driver as defined in 49 CFR
390.5 and, (5) that Isuzu notify FMCSA in writing if any driver is
convicted of disqualification offenses in Sec. Sec. 383.51 or 391.15
of the FMCSRs.
In accordance with 49 U.S.C. 31315 and 31136(e), the exemption will
be valid for 2 years unless revoked earlier by the FMCSA. The exemption
will be revoked if: (1) the drivers for Isuzu fail to comply with the
terms and conditions of the exemption; (2) the exemption has resulted
in a lower level of safety than was maintained before it was granted;
or (3) continuation of the exemption would not be consistent with the
goals and objectives of 49 U.S.C. 31315 and 31136.
Issued on: October 10, 2003.
Pamela M. Pelcovits,
Office Director, Policy, Plans, and Regulation.
[FR Doc. 03-26119 Filed 10-15-03; 8:45 am]