Move over DMV tester, make room for technology, not to replace you, but to make your job easier and keep you safe during this current health crisis. With expanded guidance from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), skills-test examiners will not have to physically climb into the cab of a truck to measure a driver’s competence for attaining a commercial driver’s license (CDL). Rather, they can be replaced by in-cab cameras or cell phones as long as state agencies can prove that these remote examinations do not sacrifice safety.
State DMV’s may also use web cameras and online testing to conduct the knowledge portion of the CDL test. The new guidance comes in the wake of another ruling eliminating restrictions for drivers with commercial learner’s permits (CLP).
On its website, the FMCSA said, “In light of the COVID-19 public health emergency, and the need to integrate [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] guidance while ensuring the continued movement of emergency supplies and equipment during the public health emergency, FMCSA is encouraging [state driver’s licensing agencies, or SDLAs] to test drivers while practicing social distancing.”
Trucking industry stakeholders have praised the FMCSA for being flexible as the nation is fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. The new guidance will hopefully alleviate problems that have arisen from widespread DMV closures and lack of staffing.
During skills testing, two DMV testers “in a sufficiently large follow vehicle (seated six feet apart) or else having one employee in a follow vehicle while a recording device that is set up on the vehicle records the test, viewing the applicant’s performance after the examiner has stopped driving, and then immediately deleting the recording.”
In order to use camera technology for skills or knowledge testing, states must do the following:
- administer the test without compromising safety
- observe the skills test from a second vehicle
- observe the knowledge test without being physically present
- leverage technology
- score the road test
- verify a knowledge-test taker’s identity
- provide any other information the state believes will help FMCSA determine whether the test administration is comparable to a model used by the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, which the FMCSA uses as a CDL testing standard
FMCSA will be considering these plans until the end of June. Also in the guidance was a reminder that states shall only issue a CLP or CDL to a driver who has passed the knowledge and skills tests” unless some exemption is noted.