NTTC Slams FMCSA CDL Proposal as Biased, Punitive
Jul 31, 2001 12:00 PM, MBT Staff
The National Tank Truck Carriers (NTTC) association contends that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is intruding in truck drivers' private lives with proposed changes in the commercial driver license. Under those changes, truck drivers could be sanctioned for grade-crossing violations that occur in a non-commercial vehicle (read personal automobile). NTTC also criticized FMCSA for proposing stronger non-CMV penalties for hazmat drivers than are in place for other truck drivers. NTTC states: "There is no demonstrated linkage between the nature of a truck's cargo and the driver's personal conduct; nor should there be."
The association noted that grade crossing citations issued to non-commercial vehicle drivers will be based upon state and/or local laws. "Collectively, such laws and regulations are a quagmire," NTTC stated. "For instance, some states have laws with singular provisions for exempt crossings, private crossings, crossings on industrial properties, marked versus unmarked crossings, etc. Other states do not."
NTTC noted that railroad rights-of-way are considered private property, leaving the railroad to maintain the crossings and warning devices (if they are present). Should the railroad fail to maintain the crossings and warning devices, drivers are put at greater risk of having an accident. "Unlike citations for drug and/or alcohol use, grade crossing citations may be highly subjective in nature and subject to interpretations of state and local restrictions by a peace officer," the comments state. "There are too many gray areas in grade crossing controls. The FMCSA is overreaching here."
With regard to the hazardous materials endorsement, NTTC argues that there is nothing in the docket or available research to indicate that there is any comparison of the conduct of a CDL holder with a hazmat endorsement versus the conduct of a CDL holder without a hazmat endorsement. "Likewise, there is nothing in the law to suggest imposition of such a punitive bias against hazmat drivers," the comments state.
"Wittingly or unwittingly, the Congress is pushing FMCSA down the slippery slope of circumscribing one's ability to earn a living because of personal conduct outside of the workplace," NTTC stated. "By comparison, NTTC can only imagine the chaos that would ensue should similar strictures be imposed by state medical licensing authorities or those issuing credentials to practice law."