January 2016

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Changes to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA): Regulations that will effect Bus Drivers

87686 Federal Register -  Effective January 4, 2017, FMCSA has established requirements for the Commercial Driver’s License Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse (Clearinghouse), a database under the Agency’s administration that will contain information about violations of FMCSA’s drug and alcohol testing program for the holders of commercial driver’s licenses (CDL’s).

“The purpose of the Clearinghouse is to maintain records of all drug and alcohol program violations in a central repository and require that employers, query the system to determine whether current and prospective employees have incurred a drug or alcohol violation that would prohibit them from performing safety-sensitive functions and receive the required evaluation and treatment before resuming safety-sensitive functions.” FMCSA will establish a ‘Return-to-Duty’ process that will also be recorded in the Clearinghouse, so School Districts can query if/when a driver is ‘cleared’ to resume driving after a violation. The compliance date for this rule change is January 6, 2020.

What this means for Districts: By January 6, 2020, districts will need to establish a login and password, in order to login to the Clearinghouse. Districts will need to ensure all current driver’s and prospective drivers are in the Clearinghouse and have been approved for operating a school bus. They will also need to ensure that a driver that has had a violation, has successfully completed all ‘Return-to Duty’ requirements, before resuming bus driving duties.
 
88732 Federal Register -  Effective February 6, 2017, FMCSA establishes new minimum training standards for certain individuals applying for their CDL for the first time or upgrading their CDL. “These individuals are subject to the entry-level driver training (ELDT) requirements and must complete a prescribed program of instruction provided by an entity that is listed on FMCSA’s Training Provider Registry (TPR). FMCSA will submit training certification information to State driver licensing agencies (SDLA’s), who may only administer CDL skills tests to applicants for the Class A and B CDL, and/or the P or S endorsements.”

What this means for Districts: By February 7, 2020, all driver’s seeking a CDL and all driver’s seeking to upgrade their CDL endorsements to Passenger (P), or School bus (S), will need to attend these new prescribed programs. As stated, these courses must be received from an FMCSA training provider. If a current district CDL driver seeks and obtains the P and/or S endorsement before February 7, 2020, they are exempt from this ruling. If those drivers holding CDL Learners Permit, seek and obtain their CDL with the P and/or S endorsements within one year of the February 7, 2020 compliance date, they will also be exempt from this ruling.

Since these are both new rulings, more guidance will be needed to meet all requirements by the compliance date(s). Any updates and information will be forthcoming. Meanwhile if you have questions or concerns, please contact me at dmwilliams@nd.gov or call me at (701) 328-2236.