[Federal Register: July 14, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 134)]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
[Docket No. FMCSA-2005-21603]
Commercial Driver's License Standards; Exemption Applications;
School Bus Endorsement
AGENCY: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), DOT.
ACTION: Notice of applications for exemption; request for comments.
SUMMARY: FMCSA proposes to grant a 2-year exemption from the knowledge
and skills tests required to obtain a school bus endorsement to a
commercial driver's license (CDL) under 49 CFR 383.123. The exemption
would be limited to school bus drivers from 11 States who passed
equivalent tests before September 30, 2002.
DATES: Submit comments on or before August 15, 2005.
ADDRESSES: You may submit comments identified by DOT DMS Docket Number
FMCSA (insert docket number) by any of the following methods:
- Web site: http://dms.dot.gov. Follow the instructions for
submitting comments on the DOT electronic docket site.
- Fax: 1-202-493-2251.
- Mail: Docket Management Facility, U.S. Department of
Transportation, 400 Seventh Street, SW., Nassif Building, Room PL-401,
Washington, DC 20590-0001.
- Hand Delivery: Room PL-401 on the plaza level of the
Nassif Building, 400 Seventh Street, SW., Washington, DC, between 9
a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.
- Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov.
Follow the online instructions for submitting comments.
Instructions: All submissions must include the agency name and
docket number for this notice. Note that all comments received will be
posted without change to http://dms.dot.gov including any personal
information provided. Please see the Privacy Act heading for further information.
Docket: For access to the docket to read background documents or
comments received, go to http://dms.dot.gov and/or Room PL-401 on the
plaza level of the Nassif Building, 400 Seventh Street, SW.,
Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday,
except Federal holidays.
Privacy Act: Anyone may search the electronic form of all comments
received into any of DOT's dockets by the name of the individual
submitting the comment (or of the person signing the comment, if
submitted on behalf of an association, business, labor union, or other
entity). You may review DOT's complete Privacy Act Statement in the
Federal Register (65 FR 19477, Apr. 11, 2000). This statement is also
available at http://dms.dot.gov.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Michael Lamm, Chief, State
Programs Division (MC-ESS), (202) 366-6830, FMCSA, 400 Seventh Street,
SW., Washington, DC 20590.
On December 9, 1999, the President signed the Motor Carrier Safety
Improvement Act (MCSIA) (Pub. L. 106-159, Stat. 1748). The legislation
included 15 new provisions aimed at improving the overall effectiveness
of the Commercial Driver's License (CDL) program.
Section 214 of MCSIA directed the agency to establish a special CDL
endorsement for drivers of school buses. The endorsement must, at a
1. A driving skills test in a school bus; and
2. A knowledge test that addresses proper safety procedures for
(A) loading and unloading children
(B) using emergency exits
(C) traversing highway rail grade crossings.
The final rule implementing all 15 CDL provisions was published on
July 31, 2002 [67 FR 49742] and became effective on September 30, 2002.
Sec. 214 was addressed in 49 CFR 383.123.
Under 49 CFR 384.301(b), States are allowed up to 3 years after the
effective date to implement the new CDL requirements. By September 30,
2005, each State must pass enabling legislation and actively enforce
the new provisions, including the school bus ("S") endorsement.
States that fail to meet the deadline will be out of substantial
compliance with 49 U.S.C. 31311(a) and thus subject to the penalties
specified in 49 CFR part 384, subpart D.
In 2002, eleven States already had requirements for a CDL school
bus endorsement (Alabama, Delaware, [[Page 40780]] Illinois, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota,
Tennessee, Virginia, and Wisconsin). These States required applicants
to take a skills test in a school bus of the same vehicle group as the
vehicle the applicant intended to drive. They also used school bus
knowledge tests that incorporated the three topics required by the new
1. Loading and unloading children, including the safe operation of
stop signals, external mirror systems, flashing lights and other
warning devices and passenger safety devices required for school buses
by State or Federal law or regulation.
2. Emergency exits and procedures for safely evacuating passengers
in an emergency.
3. State and Federal laws and regulations related to safely
traversing highway rail grade crossings.
FMCSA determined that these programs met or exceeded the Federal
requirement. Drivers who passed the school bus endorsement tests
required by any of these States on or after September 30, 2002, the
effective date of the Federal rule could be issued an "S'"
These States, however, may have assumed that drivers who passed the
State knowledge and skills tests for the school bus endorsement before
September 30, 2002, would in fact have the knowledge test requirement
waived as well. That cannot be done under the Federal rule. The Federal
rule looks forward in time, not backward. Every driver renewing a CDL
with a school bus endorsement on or after September 30, 2002, must pass
the tests required by 49 CFR 383.123 or a compatible State regulation.
Because the Federal rule is not retroactive, the agency's recognition
that certain State regulations are equivalent does not retroactively
validate the results of earlier tests conducted under those
regulations. Therefore, drivers who passed compatible State tests
before September 30, 2002 must pass the tests required by 49 CFR
Once these States understood the requirements of the FMCSA rule, it
became clear that thousands of school bus drivers who had passed the
State tests before September 30, 2002, but had not been tested when
they renewed their CDL's with a school bus endorsement after that date,
would have to be re-tested before September 30, 2005, if the States
were to remain in substantial compliance under 49 CFR Part 384.
Application for an Exemption
On behalf of the affected school bus drivers, the States identified
in this notice have requested a 2-year exemption from Sec. 383.123 due
to the large number of drivers who would have to be re-tested before
September 30, 2005. The estimated number of drivers that would have to
be re-tested are as follows:
Since the tests in use in these States have been determined to meet
or exceed the requirements of 49 CFR 383.123 as of the effective date
of the rule (September 30, 2002), FMCSA believes the terms and
conditions of the exemption would achieve a level of safety equivalent
to that provided by complying with the current Federal requirement on
September 30, 2005. The State petitions for the exemption are in the
Proposed Terms and Conditions for the Exemption
This exemption would grant temporary relief from the testing
requirements under 49 CFR 383.123 until September 30, 2007 to the
school bus drivers of Alabama, Delaware, Illinois, Minnesota, Ohio,
Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, and
Wisconsin who were issued a school bus endorsement prior to September
30, 2002. All of these school bus drivers must be tested in accordance
with the requirements in 49 CFR 383.123 by September 30, 2007.
Request for Comments
In accordance with 49 U.S.C. 31315 and 31136(e), FMCSA is
requesting public comment from all interested persons on the agency's
intent to grant school bus drivers in the States of Alabama, Delaware,
Illinois, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota,
Tennessee, Virginia, and Wisconsin who were issued a school bus
endorsement prior to September 30, 2002 an exemption from the testing
requirements of 49 CFR 383.123 until September 30, 2007. All comments
received before the close of business on the comment closing date
indicated at the beginning of this notice will be considered and will
be available for examination in the docket at the location listed under
the address section of this notice. Comments received after the comment
closing date will be filed in the public docket and considered to the
extent practicable, but FMCSA may grant or deny the exemption at any
time after the close of the comment period. In addition to late
comments, FMCSA also will continue to file in the public docket any
relevant information that becomes available after the comment closing
date. Interested persons should continue to examine the public docket
for new material.
Authority: 49 U.S.C. 31136 and 31315; 49 CFR 1.73.
Issued on: July 7, 2005.
Annette M. Sandberg,
[FR Doc. 05-13869 Filed 7-13-05; 8:45 am]