[Federal Register: April 9, 1998 (Volume 63, Number 68)]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
Federal Highway Administration
Driver History Initiative Projects; Fiscal Year 1998 Funding
AGENCY: Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), DOT.
ACTION: Notice of solicitation.
SUMMARY: This notice solicits proposals from States for projects to
evaluate their current citation issuance, conviction process, and
driver licensing procedures and policies in meeting the goal of timely,
accurate, and complete reporting and recording of traffic convictions
within a State and between States. Where deficiencies are identified, a
State is to develop new or revised systems, procedures, and/or policies
to improve the reporting and recording of traffic convictions. The FHWA
will provide grant funds to the selected States to carry out the
projects from funds set aside in the Department of Transportation and
Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 1998 (Pub. L. 105-66, 111 Stat.
1425) for driver improvements and enhancements.
DATES: Proposals must be submitted on or before July 8, 1998.
ADDRESSES: Submit all proposals to: Mr. Phillip Forjan, Federal Highway
Administration, Department of Transportation, Office of Motor Carrier
Research and Standards, HCS-20, Room 3107, 400 Seventh Street, SW.,
Washington, DC 20590.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Phillip Forjan, Office of Motor
Carrier Research and Standards, (202) 366-4001, or Mr. Paul Claunch,
Office of Motor Carrier Safety and Technology, (202) 366-2170, Federal
Highway Administration, Department of Transportation, 400 Seventh
Street, SW., Washington, DC 20590. Office hours are from 7:45 a.m. to
4:15 p.m., e.t., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. Those
desiring notification of receipt of their proposal submission must
include a self-addressed, stamped envelope or postcard.
An electronic copy of this document may be downloaded using a modem
and suitable communications software from the Federal Register
Electronic Bulletin Board Service at (202) 512-1661. Internet users may
reach the Federal Register's home page at: http://www.nara.gov/nara/
fedreg and Government Printing's Office's database at http://
Extensive studies and research conducted over a period of years
have found that driver error is a major cause of motor vehicle crashes.
Driver error is a complex problem with many components including age,
experience, time of day, extent of familiarity with the roadway,
emotional/physical/mental state, traffic patterns, etc. Improving
driver behavior is essential if highway safety is to be improved.
Federal, State, and local governments spend millions of dollars
annually on training, education, public information, and law
enforcement efforts to protect the motoring public by detecting and
deterring unsafe driver behavior. The enforcement component of these
programs produces thousands of citations for driving violations every
The backbone of what is known as the ``driver control system'' is
the driver history, which should include a record of the driver's
convictions as well as the dates of any license suspensions and
reinstatements. This record provides licensing agencies, law
enforcement, prosecutors, judges, insurance organizations, and
potential employers with the information needed to make sound decisions
involving an individual's driving and/or license status. The driver
history system, however, does not always service the needs of the
public in reporting timely, accurate, and reliable information.
State Citation Tracking Study
About two years ago, a large State with citation tracking
capability sampled the disposition of a randomly selected group of
commercial motor vehicle (CMV) driving citations. The State waited one
year from the date of issuance to investigate the results of the
citations on the driver history of the drivers cited. The State agency
analyzed citations issued to 184 commercial drivers licensed by that
State and 95 commercial drivers holding licenses issued by other
States. The State's driver history records showed the following:
Nothing on record................................. 27 49
Convicted of offense charged...................... 56 9
Convicted of lesser offense or non-commercial
violation........................................ 17 42
Of the citations written to in-State drivers, 75 were for serious
traffic offenses as defined in the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act
of 1986 (CMVSA) (49 U.S.C. chapter 313). These offenses include
speeding fifteen or more miles per hour over the limit, improper lane
change, following too closely, or reckless driving as defined by State
or local law. Of those citations written to in-State drivers, 63
percent resulted in convictions for the offense charged and are listed
in the driver history, 23 percent did not appear on the driver history
at all, and 14 percent appeared as a conviction of reduced charge or a
non-commercial violation. Of the citations written to out-of State
drivers, 56 were for serious traffic offenses. Fourteen percent of the
citations resulted in convictions for the offense charged and are
listed as such in the driver record, 54 percent did not appear on the
driver history at all, and 32 percent appeared as convictions of either
a reduced charge or a non-commercial violation.
It is very unlikely that acquittals account for all 23 percent of
the citations issued to in-State drivers for serious traffic offenses,
and 54 percent issued to out-of-State drivers, which were not listed in
the driver history. Discussions with safety practitioners around the
country bring general agreement that, in many cases, convictions simply
do not result in entries in the driver history. This raises serious
questions as to the efficacy of current enforcement efforts. If very
large numbers of citations regularly do not result in convictions or
convictions are not entered into the driver history, there is little
chance of the driver control system working to identify problem drivers
for corrective action.
Systemic reporting problems, including inconsistencies in reporting
driving convictions among and within States, are another concern. An
example would be where a State, upon receiving a driver history record
or conviction from another State, either will not post a conviction
because it is old or will not act on a history or conviction because it
is from out-of-State. Given current reporting problems between and
among courts and licensing agencies, a reporting delay in excess of six
months is common.
The primary concern is those commercial drivers who continue to
drive in spite of multiple disqualifying offenses. These multiple
offenders are either undetected by the driver control system or granted
hardship or limited licenses that allow them to continue to drive under
restricted circumstances, which may or may not become part of the
driver history. The outcome is that ``at-risk'' drivers often go
undetected, their behavior unchanged, and they put others at risk of
injury or death.
CDL Effectiveness Study Preliminary Conclusions: Harmonization of
State Laws and Adjudication
The Senate Appropriations Committee in the Senate Report to the
Department of Transportation and Related Agencies Appropriations Act,
1995, directed the FHWA to provide information regarding actions taken
under the CDL program to suspend, revoke, or otherwise disqualify
commercial motor vehicle operators who commit certain violations and to
provide information in other areas of program performance. (S.Rep. No.
103-310, at page 101 (1994)). As a result, the FHWA's Office of Motor
Carriers initiated the Commercial Driver License Effectiveness Study to
examine the implementation of the Commercial Driver's License (CDL)
program and to assess its effectiveness and benefits to highway safety,
including the best methods of monitoring and restricting ``at-risk''
drivers of CMVs.
The following is a list of some of the CDL implementation study's
significant findings in the area of harmonization of State laws and
1. At least 15 States have programs which provide for masking
convictions so that they are not visible to an employer if the driver
attends a prescribed education or treatment program. Such programs
compromise the intent of harmonization to the degree that they mask
convictions for disqualifying offenses specified in 49 U.S.C. 31310.
2. Few judges, prosecutors, or law enforcement officers have
received training or study materials on the CDL program. Many are not
aware of the Federal statute addressing commercial motor vehicle
driving offenses, the CDL program, or the harmonization of State laws
regarding convictions defined in 49 U.S.C. 31310. Judges and
prosecutors generally do not understand that CMV violations are
materially different from other traffic violations.
3. The level of coordination which exist between a State's driver
licensing agency and the State's traffic court system is inadequate in
many instances to assure driver control measures are properly
administered and occur in a timely fashion..
4. Data analysis of CDL holder convictions found 19 percent of all
convictions are posted as ``UNKNOWN'' with respect to vehicle type,
while an additional 64 percent are marked ``NO,'' i.e., the violation
did not occur in a CMV. Omitting a check mark on the citation
indicating that the violation occurred in a CMV, or ``losing'' the
check mark during the adjudication and conviction posting process,
eliminates application of the Federal requirements and sanctions.
5. This data sufficiency problem is further exacerbated for out-of-
State convictions. Six State DMVs out of 41 responding automatically
``translate'' some CMVSA violations to a lesser offense when the
conviction does not indicate the violation was in a CMV (e.g., a
conviction for .04 percent Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) would be
posted as a conviction for an ``open container''). The survey also
indicates that statutes prohibit 5 of the 46
responding States from taking license withdrawal action against a
driver for an out-of-State conviction, except those listed in 49 U.S.C.
31310. If an out-of-State conviction is not marked as occurring in a
CMV, 43 of the 46 responding States automatically post the conviction
as occurring in a non-CMV. The survey included all 50 States plus the
District of Columbia. There were several questions on the survey that
were not addressed by all the States.
Conviction Deferral Programs
Many States and localities have adopted programs that allow
convictions for moving traffic offenses to be deferred, diverted, or
otherwise prevented from becoming a part of a driver's permanent
record. The assumption underlying many of these programs is that
drivers should be afforded the opportunity to mend their ways without
facing a fine plus ongoing, increased insurance costs if the offense
becomes a part of the permanent driving record.
These programs often require drivers to attend driver improvement
programs or other training sessions in order to avoid having the
driving conviction entered on their permanent records. Some of these
programs are managed Statewide by driver licensing agencies. The
programs generally consist of systems to retain deferred convictions in
State records, but to mask them if requested by certain parties (i.e.,
insurance companies). This enables the State to monitor the driver's
behavior and, when the system works properly, to avoid allowing a
driver to simultaneously participate in several diversion or deferral
programs with multiple convictions. Other programs allow local
jurisdictions to manage their own diversion or deferral programs. Under
this system, local courts can collect and retain additional court costs
to cover the deferral or diversion programs. These funds are retained
by the local governments to be used for governmental programs. In
Indiana, the diversion/deferral program does not require participation
in a remedial driver training or driver improvement course.
In addition to giving the drivers a second chance and helping them
to avoid potentially significant increased costs following a traffic
conviction, diversion and deferral programs are a useful source of
revenue for local governments. In States like Indiana, local
jurisdictions can collect extra fines and fees as a part of the program
and can retain those revenues for local use. Generally, traffic
citations that are adjudicated locally and reported to the State allow
for some type of State and local revenue sharing of fines collected by
local jurisdictions. Clearly, diversion/deferral programs can be
attractive to local jurisdictions as a means of retaining fine revenues
collected in local courts. Some policies allow these funds to be given
to civic organizations such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). In
addition to such not-for-profit organizations, funds are diverted to
alcohol and drug services, city/county governments, courts, law
enforcement agencies, and the prosecutor's office.
Use of deferral programs leads to traffic convictions not being
reported to State licensing agencies. These omissions can have a
potentially serious effect on safety, particularly where the programs
are administered locally. In such cases, local jurisdictions are likely
to be unaware of the identity of deferral program participants in
neighboring communities. Consequently, an habitual offender could
participate in several deferral programs at one time, with no record of
the traffic convictions existing on the offender's driver history. Even
where deferral/diversion programs are centrally administered, they are
dependent on complete reporting by local jurisdictions to ensure that a
driver is not participating in multiple programs.
Participation in these programs is particularly problematic for
holders of a CDL. Commercial drivers generally drive significantly more
miles annually than do passenger car drivers. Their exposure to crashes
and to more hazardous driving conditions that can lead to crashes is
much greater than that of the average driver. Also, commercial drivers
operate larger, heavier vehicles that can cause significant damage in a
crash with a passenger car. In addition, the CDL program includes
specific, required penalties for drivers who commit more than one
serious traffic offense as defined in 49 U.S.C. 31310. Drivers
convicted of these offenses (including, among other things, improper or
erratic lane changing or speeding 15 or more miles an hour over the
speed limit) are subject to license suspension. Participation in a
diversion/deferral program could allow these drivers to mask such
offenses from judges, prosecutors, and licensing agencies and, thus,
avoid statutorily required sanctions. The potential exists for chronic
offenders to use the diversion/deferral system to continue to drive
well beyond a point where they would otherwise be subject to some type
of license sanction or remedial program under the CDL program.
The purpose of this discussion is to point out that while deferral/
diversion programs can provide drivers an opportunity to avoid
potentially large and continuing penalties for conviction of a single
moving violation, they can also allow chronic offenders to avoid
detection and CDL holders to avoid statutory penalties. Jurisdictions
should weigh the safety impact of these programs and consider whether
they need more controls to ensure that safety is not compromised. There
is also the question of taxpayer confidence in a traffic enforcement
program that allows local jurisdictions to collect and retain extra
revenue for traffic convictions which are not reported to the State.
Some citizens hold traffic enforcement programs in disdain as revenue
generating mechanisms for local governments, rather than efforts to
ensure and support public safety by limiting crashes and injuries.
Diversion/deferral programs that allow local jurisdictions to raise
fines and penalties and forego reporting of convictions could
contribute to this type of criticism. States seeking to participate in
this grant program will be asked to review and include in their grant
proposal a summary of diversion/deferral programs in the State.
Driver History Initiative Projects
The FHWA is trying to improve the timeliness, completeness,
accuracy, and clarity of State driver history files by promoting an
integrated driver licensing system. Such a system will improve and
enhance the driver history file by its ability to facilitate
identification, prosecution, and adjudication of problem drivers. It
will benefit drivers who have satisfied the penalties or conditions of
a driving restriction by promptly updating their driving record. It
will ensure that all drivers have complete, accurate, and up-to-date
histories available as needed for employment and insurance purposes.
The initiative will begin with Federally funded State projects. It
will involve States that are willing to explore and test new and proven
methodologies and protocols, allowing for rapid electronic exchange of
driver history information. A major component of the projects will be
to test procedures that facilitate citation tracking from issuance to
resolution. The project should also enhance the accuracy, speed, and
completeness of driver history information exchange among the various
components of the system, including law enforcement, prosecutors, the
courts, and driver licensing agencies, both within the State and across
The scope of potential projects or plans should not be limited to
system development, changes, or enhancements. The State may have a
system that is technically sound but hampered by State procedures,
policies, laws, or legislation preventing the State from utilizing its
system in the most efficient and effective manner. The FHWA will
entertain proposals that may not involve the system but would meet the
project goals. One example of a procedure problem is out-of-State
convictions. Some States treat paper notification of out-of-State
convictions differently than electronic notification of similar
convictions; several States lack the authority to assess points or
penalties for convictions received electronically. As mentioned above,
many States report there are certain out-of-State convictions which
they cannot enter on drivers' records because of statutory
The primary objective of this effort is to achieve enhancements in
the development, exchange, retention, and reporting of driver histories
of commercial motor vehicle operators. The FHWA believes that any
enhancements to the commercial segment of the driver licensing system
are also likely to have a positive effect on the non-commercial side.
However, the FHWA will accept proposals on all aspects of the States'
driver licensing recordkeeping and control systems.
Solutions developed as a result of the various projects will be
shared with other States that wish to improve and upgrade their driver
history tracking systems or revise existing licensing procedures.
The initiative will be a collaborative effort among the Federal
Highway Administration (FHWA), and the National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration (NHTSA), which jointly will provide the funding, as well
as the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA),
the National Association of Governors' Highway Safety Representatives
(NAGHSR), the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA), and the
International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), which will all
provide technical support during all phases of the projects.
The goal of the FHWA is to ensure timely, accurate, and complete
reporting and recording of traffic convictions within States (courts,
State licensing agencies, prosecutors), and between and among States to
reliably identify potential problem drivers by enhancing existing
systems, developing new systems, or revising existing procedural
Required Content of Proposals
While providing the maximum possible flexibility to States, grant
proposals must meet certain criteria. The grant proposal criteria are
designed to ensure that key State agencies and organizations
participate in approved grant activities. A thorough evaluation design
is another key requirement. The proposal must include the following
1. Identify a lead Agency for the project.
2. Identify an interdisciplinary working group within the State,
including but not limited to the motor vehicle licensing agency, court
system, prosecutors, State law enforcement, Governor's Highway Safety
Representative, and Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program (MCSAP)
3. Provide an analysis of existing systems or procedures, including
discussion of any driver conviction/deferral programs, and outline
strengths and define areas requiring attention or improvement. Include
any statutory limitations that may affect communication and recording
of convictions on the system.
4. Define system requirements, including project scope, whether new
technologies would be tested, and methods of gathering, integrating,
and facilitating data exchange between various users.
5. Provide and submit a project evaluation plan and time lines for
completion. If your project is not system related, describe existing
procedures, the problems they generate, proposed new procedures,
anticipated outcome, and the means to measure the success or impact of
the project or program.
6. Define, analyze, and document user procedures, including
projected barriers to project success.
7. Define the methodology for implementing the system or
8. Provide plans for preparing a final report, including the
evaluation findings and recommendations for other States regarding the
strengths and weaknesses of this project or program.
9. Provide a budget for the project.
Submission of Proposals
There will be no formal Request For Proposals (RFP). Proposals
responding to this notice must be valid for 180 days, and may be funded
at any time during that validity period. Submit an original and three
copies of your proposal, following the task requirements listed above
to Mr. Phillip J. Forjan, Federal Highway Administration, Department of
Transportation, Office of Motor Carrier Research and Standards, HCS-20,
Room 3107, 400 Seventh Street, SW., Washington, DC 20590.
Evaluation of Proposals and Award
A panel comprised of representatives from the NHTSA, the AAMVA, the
NAGHSR, the CVSA, and the IACP will assist the FHWA in its oversight of
the project. Members of the panel will be available for technical
assistance during all phases of the projects and will review the
evaluations of each final product. The panel will evaluate each
proposal, based on the following factors: (1) The intrinsic merit of
the proposal; (2) the technical competency of the proposal; (3) the
potential for utilization of results; (4) reasonableness of the initial
cost proposed; and (5) adequacy of proposed resources to complete the
project requirements satisfactorily and in a timely manner.
This notice announces the FHWA's intent to provide funding in FY
1998 for a number of projects relating to driver licensing systems and
State driver license procedures. States are invited to submit proposals
outlining their projects to the FHWA's Office of Motor Carriers. The
FHWA will fund project management and implementation of State systems
or revision of State procedures. This grant will not require matching
funds. The FHWA has $500,000 available for this purpose in Fiscal Year
1998 and contemplates making several awards from the proposals
submitted. The States are also encouraged to explore other funding
sources in both the private and public sectors to implement integrated
driver history tracking systems.
Authority: Pub. L. 105-66, 111 stat. 1425, 1432, 49 U.S.C.
31102, and 49 CFR 1.48.
Issued on: April 1, 1998.
Gloria J. Jeff,
Deputy Administrator, Federal Highway Administration.
[FR Doc. 98-9380 Filed 4-8-98; 8:45 am]
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