oversight

Truck Safety: States' Progress in Testing and Licensing Commercial Drivers

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1990-03-12.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

                         ---
RI;1 t*t*h I ‘.NO
                t
                    TRUCK SAFETY
                    States’Progress in
                    Testing and Licensing
                    Commercial Drivers
United States
General Accounting Office
Washington, D.C. 20548

Resources, Community, and
Economic Development Division

1j-232903

March 12,lQQO

The IIonorable Ernest F. Hollings,
   Chairman
The IIonorable John C. Danforth,
   Banking Minority Member
Committee on Commerce, Science,
   and Transportation
I Jnited States Senate

The Ilonorable J. James Exon,
   Chairman
The Honorable Bob Kasten,
   Ranking Minority Member
Subcommittee on Surface Transportation
Committee on Commerce, Science,
   and Transportation
I Jnited States Senate

In response to your request, this report evaluates federal and state efforts to implement the
testing and licensing requirements of the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1986.

We are providing copies of this report to the Secretary of Transportation; the Director, Office
of Management and Budget; the Administrator, Federal Highway Administration; and other
interested parties.

This work was performed under the direction of Kenneth M. Mead, Director, Transportation
Issues, who can be reached at (202) 2751000. Other major contributors are listed in
appendix IV.




J. Dexter Peach
Assistant Comptroller General
G&lo ~~~~~~~~~~~fice
         ,
     Resources, Community, and
     Economic Development Division

     D-232903

     March 12,lQQO

     The Iionorable Ernest F. Hollings,
        Chairman
     The Honorable John C. Danforth,
        Ranking Minority Member
     Committee on Commerce, Science,
        and Transportation
     I Jnited States Senate

     The Honorable J. James Exon,
       Chairman
     The IIonorable Bob Kasten,
       Ranking Minority Member
     Subcommittee on Surface Transportation
     Committee on Commerce, Science,
       and Transportation
     United States Senate

     In response to your request, this report evaluates federal and state efforts to implement the
     testing and licensing requirements of the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1986.

     We are providing copies of this report to the Secretary of Transportation; the Director, Office
     of Management and Budget; the Administrator, Federal Highway Administration; and other
     interested parties.

     This work was performed under the direction of Kenneth M. Mead, Director, Transportation
     Issues, who can be reached at (202) 275-1000. Other major contributors are listed in
     appendix IV.




     ,J. Dexter Peach
     Assistant Comptroller General
                           Executive   Summary




    I
                           FIIWA issued minimum testing and licensing regulations in July 1988 and
Resblts in Brief           established the national driver information system in January 1989. The
                           states then had about 3 years to implement their commercial driver’s
                           license (CDL) programs and to test and license all of their drivers.

                           GAO found that at least 33 states will have a difficult  time completing
                           driver testing and licensing by April 1, 1992. Specifically, 13 states, in
                           responding to a GAO questionnaire, indicated that they may not meet the
                           deadline. The 20 other states said they plan the difficult task of testing
                           and licensing one-fourth to one-half of all of their drivers during the 3-
                           month period prior to April 1992. GAO estimates that at least 360,000
                           drivers in the 13 states may not be tested and licensed on time and
                           therefore could lose their driving privileges. Some states have yet to
                           enact legislation adopting the new federal testing and licensing require-
                           ments. Most states are experiencing problems in making computer
                           changes needed to connect to the national driver information system.
                           Once these problems are resolved, most states will have 2 years or less
                           to test and license all drivers. States normally license all drivers over a
                           4-year period.

                           HIWA expects that the states can meet the April 1, 1992, testing and
                           licensing deadline. However, as of October 1, 1989, FHWA had not devel-
                           oped specific action plans to ensure that once the states establish CDL
                           programs, the states will be able to test and license all drivers on time.
                           Additional FIIWA assistance is needed to ensure that the act’s primary
                           intent of removing unsafe commercial drivers from the nation’s high-
                           ways is met. Measures are also needed to ensure that drivers in states
                           that do not meet the deadline are not unduly penalized.



Principal Findings

Limited Time Left to       The Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act and FHWA regulations pro-
Implement State Programs   vided the states about 5-l/2 years to develop and implement their CDL
                           programs and then test and license all of their drivers by April 1, 1992.
                           Hy January 1989, kXWA had issued the testing and licensing regulations
                           and made available the commercial driver’s license information system
                           for state use. Completion of these tasks left the states with about 3
                           years to enact legislation adopting the federal licensing requirements
                           and setting commercial licensing fees, establish new procedures for test-
                           ing and licensing, secure the computer capabilities to connect to the


                           Page 3                GAO/RCED-90-78   Progress in Testing and Licensing Commercial   Drivers
                              Executive   Summary




                              national information system, and administer knowledge and skills tests
                              to their commercial drivers. As of October 1989, only California and
                              Washington were testing and licensing commercial drivers under the
                              new standards.


Th~irty-three States Face     The results from a GAO-administered questionnaire show that at least 33
Pr~~blemsin Meeting Apr nil   states will have problems meeting the April 1992 deadline for testing
                              and licensing drivers. Thirteen of these states indicated that they may
1902 Deadline                 not complete driver testing and licensing by April 1, 1992. GAO estimates
                              that at least 360,000 commercial drivers in these states may not be
                              tested and licensed and thus may lose their driving privileges. In addi-
                              tion, GAO believes that 20 of the 33 states will have a particularly hard
                              time meeting the deadline because they plan to test and/or license one-
                              fourth to one-half of their drivers in the 3 months prior to April 1992.
                              For example, Illinois plans to test and license about 200,000 drivers dur-
                              ing this 3-month period-a 650 percent increase over its normal rate.

                              The states must make legislative and computer changes before driver
                              testing and licensing can begin. As of October 1989, 14 states had yet to
                              adopt the legislation needed to establish their programs. In addition, as
                              of April 1989, 43 states had not addressed or were just beginning to
                              address the hardware or software changes needed to connect to the
                              national information system. Most states do not plan to begin testing
                              until they are connected to the information system.

                              GAO found that most states plan to test and license all of their drivers in
                              2 years or less rather than over a normal 4-year period. States also face
                              the uncertainty of not knowing how many drivers they must test and
                              license. Current nationwide estimates of the number of commercial driv-
                              ers range from 5.5 to 9 million.


Additional FHWA Actions       FEIWAand the states have worked successfully to ensure that the admin-
                              istrative framework by which the states could begin developing their
Needed to Help States Meet    CDLprograms was completed by January 1, 1989. However, FIIWA has
April 1992 Deadline           not developed specific action plans to ensure that once the states estab-
                              lish CDL programs, the states will complete driver testing and licensing
                              by April 1, 1992. While FHWA officials expect that the states can license
                              all of their commercial drivers by April 1992, GAO believes additional
             4
                              FIIWA assistance is needed to help ensure that the act’s objective of
                              removing unsafe commercial drivers from the nation’s highways is met
                              on schedule. Drivers in states that do not meet the April 1992 deadline


                              Page 4                GAO/RCED-90-78   Progress in Testing and Licensing Commercial   Drivers
                      Executive   Summary




                      should not be unduly penalized for not having a commercial license on
                      time.

                                                                                                                      -
                      GAO recommends that the Secretary of Transportation direct the Admin-
Recdmmendations       istrator, FHWA, to

                  . encourage the states to begin their testing programs while they resolve
                    difficulties in connecting to the national information system and
                  l develop, in cooperation with each state, action plans to help ensure that
                    each state completes testing and licensing by April 1992.

                      GAO also recommends that the Secretary be prepared to take the steps
                      necessary to protect drivers who may not be licensed because their state
                      does not meet the April 1992 deadline.


                      FHWA officials responsible for implementing the CDL program provided
Agency Comments       comments on a draft of this report. They stated that in October 1989
                      FHWA established a CDL Implementation Team to assist states in the
                      development of their CDL programs. FHWA officials are optimistic that
                      this new initiative will help the states meet the deadline. GAO agrees that
                      FHWA'S recent effort may help states establish their programs more
                      quickly. However, once states accomplish this, the difficult task of test-
                      ing and licensing all drivers by April 1992 remains. FHWA officials
                      acknowledged that they had not addressed the potential problem of
                      some states’ testing and licensing large portions of their commercial
                      drivers in the last 3 months of the program. Detailed state-specific
                      action plans are needed to a.ddressthis potential problem.

                      FHWA officials agreed with our recommendation that the Secretary
                      should be prepared to protect drivers in those states that are unable to
                      meet the deadline. FHWA is considering options to allow drivers to be
                      tested and licensed in any state with an active CDL program.

                      American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators officials also
                      commented on a draft of this report. The officials said that the report is
                      generally comprehensive and thorough. They agree with FHWA'S recent
                      initiative but believe states will need additional federal funding to over-
                      come implementation problems.




                      Page 5                GAO/RCED-90-78   Progress in Testing and Licensing Commercial   Drivers
Cjontents



Chapter 1                                                                                                       8
Iritroduction            Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1986                                            8
                         Testing and Licensing Requirements                                                    10
                         Objectives, Scope, and Methodology                                                    11

Chapter 2
States Need Additional   Limited Time Left to Meet the Deadline
                         FIIWA Efforts to Assist States in Meeting the Deadline
FHWA Assistance to
Help Meet April 1992
Deadline
Chapter 3                                                                                                      17
States Need to           States Must Complete Many Tasks Before Establishing                                   17
                              CDL Programs
Accelerate Testing and   Driver Testing and Licensing May Not Be Completed by                                  22
Licensing to Meet             April 1992
                         Other Factors Affecting States’Ability to Meet the                                    23
A,pril 1992 Deadline          Deadline
                         Conclusions                                                                           26
                         Recommendations                                                                       27
                         Agency Comments                                                                       27

Appendixes               Appendix I: Commercial Driver’s License Roles and                                    30
                             Responsibilities
                         Appendix II: Fourteen States Yet to Enact CDL                                        33
                             Legislation
                         Appendix III: Planned Dates for State CDL Testing and                                34
                             Licensing
                         Appendix IV: Major Contributors to This Report                                       36

Table                    Table 1.1: Commercial Driver Testing and Licensing                                     9
                             Requirements

Figures     r)           Figure 2.1: CDL Program Time Frames                                                   14
                         Figure 3.1: Time Frames for a Typical CDL Program                                     18
                         Figure 3.2: Illinois’ Accelerated CDL Program                                         23


                         Page 6           GAO/RCED-90-78   Progress in Testing and Licensing Commercial   Drivers
.
    Contents




    Abbreviations

    AAMVA      American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators
    CDL        commercial driver’s license
    CDLIS      Commercial Driver’s License Information System
    DOI-       Department of Transportation
    FHWA       Federal Highway Administration
    GAO        General Accounting Office
    RCED       Resources, Community, and Economic Development Divison


    Page 7            GAO/RCED-90.78   Progress in Testing and LicemIng   Commercial   Driven
Chbpter 1

hhtroduction


                        The loss of lives and property resulting from commercial motor vehicle
                        accidents has been a focus of public concern for several years. Between
                        1981 and 1988, over 4,500 fatalities occurred each year in accidents
                        involving heavy trucks. In 1988 alone, the National Highway Traffic
                        Safety Administration reported that 4,960 fatal accidents involved
                        heavy trucks. Although such accidents represent 10.1 percent of all
                        fatal highway accidents, heavy trucks account for only 4.5 percent of
                        vehicle miles traveled and less than 1 percent of registered vehicles. In
                        addition, Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) statistics show that
                        heavy truck accidents cost about $6 billion annually.

                        In 1985 FIIWA reported that driver error was the prime factor in almost
                        95 percent of the preventable commercial motor vehicle accidents. Also,
                        in 1986 the Office of Technology Assessment reported that human error,
                        rather than equipment shortcoming, caused 62 percent of the reported
                        commercial motor vehicle accidents involving the transportation of haz-
                        ardous materials.

                        When considering the issue of unsafe commercial drivers, the Congress,
                        the Department of Transportation (DOT), the National Transportation
                        Safety Board, and the motor carrier industry found that state licensing
                        procedures were not uniform and did not adequately test an applicant’s
                        qualifications to drive a commercial motor vehicle. For example, in 18
                        states and the District of Columbia, an individual qualified to operate a
                        passenger car could also drive an l&wheeled commercial truck or inter-
                        city bus without passing additional tests. In addition, a commercial
                        driver could easily obtain licenses from more than one state and then
                        avoid possible license suspension by spreading traffic violations among
                        several licenses. Accordingly, the Congress saw the need for reform and
                        established national requirements for a single license per driver, knowl-
                        edge and skills tests, uniform licensing standards, and a nationwide
                        commercial driver’s license information system (CDIJS). These require-
                        ments are included in the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1986.


                        Congress passed the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1986 to
Commercial Motor        remove unsafe and unqualified commercial drivers from the nation’s
Vehicle Safety Act of   highways. The act focused attention and resources on the transport
1986                    industry’s primary safety concern-the commercial motor vehicle oper-
                        ator. The act prohibits drivers from having more than one license and
            ,I
                        requires them to demonstrate that they have special skills and knowl-
                        edge necessary to drive a commercial motor vehicle safely. The act



                        Page 8           GAO/RCED-90-78   Progress in Testing and Licensing Commercial   Drivers
                                            Chapter 1
                                            Introduction




                                            applies to drivers operating vehicles in interstate and intrastate com-
                                            merce. It specifically covers drivers operating commercial vehicles
                                            weighing over 26,000 pounds (gross vehicle weight rating), hauling haz-
                                            ardous material, or transporting more than 15 passengers. Table 1.1
                                            summarizes the requirements the act and federal regulations impose on
                                            DCJr, the states,’ and commercial drivers.

Table r .l: Commercial Driver Testing and
Licenging Requirements                      Party               Requirement                                                              Date
                                                                                                         -
                                            DOT                 Issue minimum standards for testing commercial driversa                July 1988

                                                                Establish the Commercial Driver’s License Information                  Jan. 1989
                                                                System”
                                            Drivers             Pass knowledge and skills tests meeting minimum federal                Apr. 1992
                                                                standards
                                                                Obtain a commercial driver’s license, meeting minimum                  Apr. 1992
                                                                federal standards in state of domicileb
                                            States              Set up a commercral driver testing and licensing program               Oct. 1993
                                                                under federal standardsC
                                            “Requirement met.
                                            “Established by FHWA regulation.
                                            %cludes querying the CDLIS to check an applicant for multiple licenses or a suspended or revoked
                                            license.


                                            The act established the framework for a national Commercial Driver’s
                                            License Program. It directed the Secretary of Transportation to issue
                                            regulations defining minimum federal standards for knowledge and
                                            skills tests by July 15, 1988, and to establish the CDLIS for housing driver
                                            licensing information by January 1, 1989. The act also provides the Sec-
                                            retary with the authority to waive the testing and licensing require-
                                            ments for certain types of drivers, provided the waiver does not
                                            diminish the safe operation of commercial motor vehicles. The Secretary
                                            has waived the testing and licensing requirements for firefighters, mili-
                                            tary personnel, and certain farmers.

                                            The act imposes different deadlines for driver and state compliance with
                                            the act’s testing requirements. Under the act, drivers may not operate a
                                            commercial motor vehicle after April 1, 1992, if they fail to pass knowl-
                                            edge and skills tests that meet minimum federal standards. They are
                                            also subject to fines of up to $5,000. However, the act contains no
                                            requirement that the states must test their drivers by this date. Rather,
                                            the act requires the states to establish a testing and licensing program

                                            ’Kefcrences to the states include the 50 states and the District of Columbia.



                                            Page 9                   GAO/RCED-90-78     Progress in Testing and Licensing Commercial     Drivers
                        Chapter 1
                        Introduction




---r.--..
                        by October 1, 1993, or risk losing b-10 percent of their federal-aid high-
                        way funds.

                        While the act specifies that drivers must be tested by April 1, 1992, it
                        does not specify when drivers must be licensed. However, FHWA has
                        issued regulations requiring drivers to obtain a commercial driver’s
                        license (CDL) by April 1, 1992. The practical effect of the April 1992
                        deadline is that the states will be forced to establish testing and licens-
                        ing programs to ensure that all of their drivers are tested and licensed
                        by April 1, 1992.


                        The act specifies that commercial drivers must pass knowledge and
Testing and Licensing   skills tests before states can issue them CDLS. FHWA regulations further
Requirements            define the length of the tests. The states can give the knowledge test in
                        written, oral, or automated formats, but the test must be at least 30
                        questions long. Additional tests are required if the driver requests cer-
                        tain endorsements to the license. For example, drivers transporting haz-
                        ardous materials must answer additional questions dealing with the safe
                        movement of these materials. To achieve a passing score on the knowl-
                        edge and endorsement tests, drivers must correctly answer at least 80
                        percent of the questions on each test.

                        To pass the skills test, drivers must demonstrate that they can perform
                        successfully all of the required skills. FHWA regulations specify that the
                        states must give the skills test in a vehicle representative of the one the
                        applicant drives or intends to drive. The states can exempt commercial
                        drivers from the skills test if they have good driving records (no serious
                        traffic convictions or accidents in the past 2 years) and have previously
                        passed a test or have operated a commercial vehicle for 2 years.

                        When a commercial driver passes the required tests, the state must then
                        query the CDLIS before issuing the driver a CDL. The CDLIS, as well as an
                        associated telecommunication network, was created to ensure that com-
                        mercial drivers do not have multiple licenses or a suspended or revoked
                        license in another state. The CDLIS is a central depository, or data base,
                        that contains names and other identifying information on commercial
                        drivers. The states enter and update driver information as they issue
                        and renew commercial licenses.

                        To check for previous licensing actions, a state will enter the driver’s
                        name and identifying information into the CDLIS. If the system contains a
                        record on the driver, it sends a message to the state that entered the


                        Page 10           GAO/RCED-90-78   Progress in Testing and Licensing Commercial   Drivers
           .

-------I
                         Chapter 1
                         Introduction




                         original data and asks that state to forward the information to the
                         requesting state. The driver’s record is transmitted across the telecom-
                         munication system, which connects the states to the CDLIS and one
                         another.


                         The Chairmen and Ranking Minority Members of the Senate Committee
Objkctives, Scope, and   on Commerce, Science, and Transportation and its Subcommittee on Sur-
Methodology              face Transportation requested that we review the implementation of
                         several requirements of the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act of
                         1986. Our February 1989 report” addressed federal and state actions to
                         carry out the act’s single license and notification of violation require-
                         ments. This report addresses FHWA and state efforts to implement uni-
                         form testing and licensing procedures, including state participation in
                         the CDLIS.

                         Our objectives were to (1) evaluate federal actions to help the states
                         comply with the testing, licensing, and CDLIS requirements; (2) document
                         what tasks the states must complete before their CDL programs are
                         established; and (3) assess states’progress in testing and licensing all of
                         their commercial drivers by the April 1, 1992, deadline.

                         To address our objectives, we developed two questionnaires that docu-
                         mented the legislative, financial, and technical obstacles the states must
                         overcome before they can establish CDL programs and test and license
                         their commercial drivers. We pretested the questionnaires with state
                         licensing officials in California, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Illi-
                         nois, and Maryland. We then distributed the questionnaires to every
                         state’s Commercial Driver’s License Coordinator and Data Processing
                         Specialist. All 50 states and the District of Columbia completed and
                         returned both questionnaires. We subsequently telephoned the state
                         officials to verify the questionnaire results and to obtain additional
                         information.

                         In addition, we conducted detailed studies of the CDL programs in Cali-
                         fornia, Illinois, and Kentucky. W ith the assistance of t,he American Asso-
                         ciation of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA),:' we selected these

                         “l’nrck Safety: Implcmtmtation of the Single Driver’s License and Notification Requirements (GAO/
                         IK'FD
                           ,A -89t- 30, kb. 13, 1%X>).
                         "AAMVAis an association of state and provincial officials responsible for the administration and
                         onforcomc!nt.of motor whkk and traffic laws in the IJnited States and Canada. AAMVAprovides
                         cocxdination and loudcrship to assist the states in implementing the requirements of the act.



                         Page 11                 GAO/RCED-90-78 Progress in Testing and Licensing Commercial Drivers
Chapter 1
Introduction




states because their CDL programs were at different stages of develop-
ment. California officials were members of most national CDL task forces
and have been in the forefront of early state implementation of the act’s
many provisions. In January 1989, California became the first state to
test and license commercial drivers under the new federal standards.
Illinois and Kentucky, which plan to begin testing and licensing their
commercial drivers by April 1990 and July 1991, respectively, were
addressing many obstacles California had overcome.

We also interviewed FHWA officials at the agency’s headquarters, in
Washington, D.C., and at field offices in 13 states. We selected these
field offices because our questionnaire results showed these states may
have difficulty testing and licensing all of their drivers by the April
1992 deadline. We documented FHWA'S procedures for helping the states
develop their CDL programs and complete all driver testing and licensing
by April 1, 1992. Through our questionnaire, we also received feedback
from the states on what assistance FHWA has provided in establishing
their CDL programs. Because FHWA worked with AAMVA to support state
CDL programs, we also documented the type of assistance AAMVA has pro-
vided the states.

We conducted our review between December 1988 and October 1989 in
accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards. We
discussed the report’s contents with FHWA and AAMVA officials and incor-
porated their clarifying comments as appropriate. Summaries of their
comments appear at the end of chapter 3. However, as requested, we did
not obtain official agency comments on a draft of this report.




Page 12          GAO/RCED-90-78   Progress in Testing and Licensing Commercial   Drivers
&btes Need Additional F’HBCAAssistance to
Help Meet April 1992 Deadline

                       The Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1986 provided the Secre-
                       tary of Transportation and the states about 5-l/2 years to establish and
                       implement the CDL program. FHWA, in association with AAMVA and the
                       states, was successful in ensuring that the administrative framework by
                       which the states could begin developing their CDL programs was com-
                       pleted by January 1, 1989. As a result of this cooperation, FHWA met the
                       act’s requirements to issue minimum testing and licensing regulations by
                       July 1988 and establish the CDLIS by January 1989. However, the com-
                       pletion of these requirements left the states with only 3 years to estab-
                       lish their CDL programs and to test and license all of their drivers by
                       April 1, 1992.

                       FHWA has overall responsibility for ensuring that the states implement
                       the act’s requirements. FIIWA has relied to a large extent on AAMVA to
                       support state implementation efforts and believes that the states can
                       meet the April 1, 1992, deadline. However, as of October 1, 1989, FHWA
                       had not developed specific action plans to ensure that once states estab-
                       lish CDL programs, the states will be able to complete driver testing and
                       licensing on schedule.


                       While the 5-l/2 years the act provided would appear to be sufficient
Limited Time Left to   time for establishing the nationwide and state CDL programs, the states
Meet the Deadline      actually have less time because they could not begin substantive pro-
                       gram development until FHWA had issued the minimum testing and
                       licensing standards and had established the CDLIS. In accordance with
                       the act, RIWA issued the minimum testing and licensing standards in July
                       1988 and established the CDLIS in January 1989. Completion of these
                       tasks by FHWA provided the states with the guidance and criteria they
                       needed to develop their CDL programs and to begin driver testing and
                       licensing. However, states then had only about 3 years to establish their
                       CDL programs and to complete driver testing and licensing. Figure 2.1
                       shows the time frames for implementing the nationwide CDL program.




                       Page 13          GAO/RCED-90-78   Progress in Testing and Licensing Commercial   Drivers
                                      Chapter 2
                                      States Need Additional FHWA Assistance    to
                                      Help Meet April 1992 Deadline




Figure 2.1: CDL Program Time Frames
                                                            FHWA Testing
                                                            and Licensing                                              Drivers
                                        1986 Act             Regulations          CC                                 Tested and
                                             ied                               Estat   shed                           Lice ;ed




                                        October                   July          January                                  April
                                          1986                    1988            1989                                   1992



                                      In comments   requested by FIIWA on its proposed testing and licensing
                                      regulations, 10 states objected to the April 1, 1992, deadline. They main-
                                      tained that since the final regulations were not issued until July 1988,
                                      the states would need more time to implement the legislative and admin-
                                      istrative changes needed to establish their CDL programs. The states also
                                      maintained that because most states have 4- or 5-year license renewal
                                      cycles, they would find it impossible to handle the new CDL program in
                                      the normal course of their renewal activity; they would have to acceler-
                                      ate testing and licensing. The states noted that circumvention of their
                                      normal renewal cycle would result in higher overhead costs. Thus, the
                                      concerned states argued that FIIWA should interpret the April 1, 1992,
                                      date as a deadline for beginning program implementation rather than
                                      for completing the testing and licensing requirements.

                                      In response to the states’ concerns, FIIWA stated that the time frames set
                                      in the act were important to maintain as an acceptable goal for state
                                      compliance. It noted that many states were already moving to adopt and
                                      implement their CDL programs based on the dates specified in the act.
                                      FIIWA also stated that changes to the April 1, 1992, deadline would con-
                                      fuse the drivers, motor carriers, and enforcement entities, who all are




                                      Page 14              GAO/RCED-90-78      Progress in Testing and Licensing Commercial   Drivers
    .


                       Chapter 2
                       States Need AdditIonal FHWA Assistance to
                       Help Meet April 1992 Deadline




                       concerned about when and what they need to do to comply with the CDL
                       requirements.


                       The Secretary of Transportation delegated to FHWA specific responsibil-
FH$VA Efforts to       ity for implementing the act’s requirements and ensuring that the act’s
As&St States in        time frames are met. In 1986, FHWA developed a plan for implementing
Meeting the Deadline   the act. The plan pointed out that there were serious policy and techni-
                       cal issues that would have to be resolved in order to achieve the ambi-
                       tious time frames established in the act. The plan also noted that FHWA
                       established a nor Coordination Group, consisting of several office direc-
                       tors from FNWA, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration,
                       and the Office of the Secretary of Transportation, to coordinate the
                       development and review of the testing and licensing standards and of
                       the CDLIS, and to involve the states and industry in CDL implementation
                       activities. According to FHWA'S implementation plan, the Coordination
                       Group was responsible for resolving critical implementation issues and
                       committing the staff resources needed to meet the legislated deadlines.
                       (A more detailed discussion of FHWA'S and AAMVA'S CDL roles and respon-
                       sibilities is contained in app. I.)

                       We found that the assistance provided by FHWA to the states has focused
                       on providing grants, issuing the minimum federal testing and licensing
                       standards, and ensuring the availability of the CDLIS for state use. These
                       actions provided the states with the administrative framework by which
                       they could begin developing their CDL programs. FHWA officials stated
                       that the agency has remained the focal point for the act’s implementa-
                       tion and through oversight of AAMVA and state actions has ensured that
                       the act is being carried out properly. However, we found that as of Octo-
                       ber 1, 1989, FHWA had not actively helped the states develop plans to
                       ensure that once they establish their CDL programs, the states will test
                       and license all of their commercial drivers by April 1, 1992.

                       In a survey of FHWA field officials in the 13 states that may not complete
                       testing and licensing on schedule, we found that FHWA field officials lack
                       the technical and licensing expertise needed to help the states implement
                       their programs. Ten of these officials stated that they generally helped
                       the states complete the grant applications, but did not provide the states
                       assistance in implementing their CDL programs or accelerating testing
                       and licensing to meet the April 1, 1992, deadline. One official said he
                       provided the state no assistance, while officials in the two remaining
                       offices noted that they had worked closely with the states to implement
                       their CDL programs. For example, the Nevada planner explained that he


                       Page 16              GAO/RCED-90-78   Progress in Testing and Licensing Commercial   Drivers
11\                                                                                                 r




      Chapter 2
      States Need Additional FHWA Assistance to
      Help Meet April 1992 DeadWe




      helped the state accelerate its CDL program by encouraging the state to
      develop and approve its CDL legislation in 1989, rather than wait until
      1991 when the legislature would meet next.

      FHWA officials told us that FHWA relies to a large extent on AAMVA to coor-
      dinate states’efforts to develop their CDL programs and help ensure that
      drivers are tested and licensed by April 1, 1992. To help the states,
      AAMVA established several working committees that developed the tech-
      nical specifications of the CDLIS, the contents of the knowledge and skills
      tests, and model legislation for the states to follow in developing their
      own CDL legislation. The committees included officials from state motor
      vehicle agencies, AAMVA, and FHWA.

      AAMVA continues to monitor states’implementation of their CDL programs
      and periodically issues state progress reports. These reports provide
      information on when states will pass their CDL legislation, begin testing
      their commercial drivers, and connect to the CDLIS. AAMVA also advises
      the states on whether their automation systems are compatible with the
      CDLIS. Overall, AAMVA has provided information to the states on the fed-
      eral government’s and individual states’progress in implementing CDL
      programs.

      Despite AAMVA'S efforts and FHWA'S assistance to the states, we found
      that the problems cited by a few states in 1987 have become problems
      prevalent among most states in 1989. As discussed in the following
      chapter, unless FIIWA takes a more active role in assisting state CDL
      efforts, states will have a difficult time completing driver testing and
      licensing by April 1, 1992.




      Page 16               GAO/RCED-90-78 Progress in Testing and Licensing Commercial   Drivers
St&es Need to Accelerate Testing and Licensing
to!Meet April 1992 Deadline

                       States need to accelerate their CDL program implementation if they are
                       to complete driver testing and licensing by April 1, 1992. This date is
                       key to achieving the 1986 act’s overall objective of removing unsafe and
                       unqualified commercial drivers from the nation’s highways. As of Octo-
                       ber 1, 1989, 14 states had yet to enact legislation adopting the new fed-
                       eral testing and licensing requirements. In addition, 43 states have
                       experienced problems in making computer changes necessary to connect
                       to the national licensing information system. Once these problems are
                       resolved, many states will then have to test and license all of their driv-
                       ers in 2 years or less rather than over a normal 4-year period.

                       Our questionnaire results show that 13 states may not have sufficient
                       time to test and license all of their commercial drivers by the deadline.
                       As a result, we estimate that at least 360,000 commercial drivers in
                       these states may not meet the federal testing and licensing require-
                       ments, and therefore could lose their driving privileges and be subject to
                       federal fines. In addition, 20 states propose ambitious schedules under
                       which they intend to test and license between one-fourth to one-half of
                       all of their drivers between January and March 1992. This task will bc
                       especially difficult for those states having limited prior testing experi-
                       ence, a high percentage of illiterate drivers, and/or many unprepared
                       drivers who require retesting.


                       The states must complete many requirements in a relatively short period
States Must Complete   of time before they can test and license their commercial drivers, To
Many Tasks Before      implement their CDL programs, all states must first enact legislation and
Establishing CDL       regulations adopting the minimum federal standards and develop or
                       modify their automated systems so they can connect to the CDLIS. As of
Programs               October 1989, 14 states had yet to adopt the legislation needed to estab-
                       lish their programs. In addition, as of April 1989,43 states had not made
                       or were just beginning to make the hardware or software changes
                       needed to connect to the national information system. Most states must
                       also increase state licensing fees to help pay for their CDL programs, hire
                       additional state examiners, and secure additional testing sites. Figure
                       3.1 illustrates the numerous tasks that AAMVA officials believe a typical
                       state must complete before it can begin driver testing and licensing.
                       When most states complete these requirements, they will have 2 years
                       or less to test and license all of their commercial drivers to meet the
                       April 1992 deadline.




                       Page 17           GAO/RCED-SO-78 Progress in Testing and Licensing Commercial   Drivers
                                         Chapter 3
                                         States Need to Accelerate Testing and
                                         Licensing to Meet April 1992 Deadline




Figurle 3.1: Time Frames for a Typical
CDL Program
                                           Time Frame                   Tark

                                           Before July 1988             Work with AAMVA         committees     defining        CDL program
                                                                        requirements



                                                   July 1988            Determine     need for additional     test sites


                                               August     1988          Review draft versions      of the knowledge        and skills tests


                                              October     1988          Draft legislation   based on AAMVA          model legislation


                                             February     1989          Introduce    CDL legislation    to the legislature



                                                   June 1989            Pass CDL legislation;      purchase       CDLIS equipment


                                                   July 1989            Begin examiner      training   (through    July 1991)



                                           September      1989          Draft CDL regulations


                                              January     1990          Program CDLIS software; begin CDLIS testing: revise
                                                                        driver’s license format, license application, and manuals



                                                   April 1990           Begin driver testing and licensing;         finalize    CDL
                                                                        regulations

                                         Source. AAMVA.




Fourteen States Have Yet                 Before 1989, a number of states did not issue commercial licenses that
to Pass CDL Legislation                  distinguished among the types of vehicles a driver could operate or
                                         required commercial driver applicants to demonstrate the skills neces-
                                         sary to operate large trucks. Only 33 states had some form of a classi-
                                         fied licensing system that made some distinction among types of
                      ”                  vehicles a driver could operate. Of these states, only 13 required state-




                                         Page 18                 GAO/RCED90-78      Progress in Testing and Licensing Commercial        Drivers
    ’ .



                            chapter 3
                            States Need to Accelerate Testing and
                            Licensing to Meet April 1992 DeadlSne




                            conducted, behind-the-wheel testing of all license applicants, including
                            operators of commercial vehicles.

                            In 1988 three state legislatures adopted CDL legislation that incorporates
                            the federal classification system into state law and establishes m inimum
                            testing standards. CDL legislation also provides for state participation in
                            the CDLIS, defines certain serious traffic offenses that would warrant
                            suspension of driving privileges, and adopts a single license law. Most
                            state legislatures did not begin debating proposed CDL legislation until
                            their 1989 sessions.As of October 1989,37 states had passed CDL legisla-
                            tion, and 14 had not. (See app. II for a list of the 14 states that have yet
                            to pass CDL legislation.)

                            For various reasons, legislatures in Alaska, New York, Rhode Island,
                            and Vermont did not pass CDL legislation proposed during their 1989 ses-
                            sions. According to AAMVA officials, Alaska’s CDL legislation became less
                            of a priority after the Prince W illiam Sound oil spill in April 1989. The
                            New York legislature did not pass its legislation becauseunrelated
                            amendments that a majority of legislators opposed were attached to the
                            proposal. Rhode Island’s legislators differed on the licensing fees for
                            commercial bus operators, while the proposed CDL legislation in Vermont
                            passed only three of the required six committees before the session
                            ended. An AAMVA official expressed particular concern about New York’s
                            failure to pass CDL legislation becausethe state could have as many as
                            450,000 commercial drivers whom it will eventually have to test and
                            license.


States Must Increase        In responding to our questionnaire, two-thirds of the states cited con-
Licensing Fees to Pay for   terns about how they will pay for the additional expensesrelated to the
                            development and operation of their CDL programs. According to informa-
CDL Programs                tion provided by the states, estimated costs (in the first year) for states
                            to set up and maintain new testing and licensing programs range from
                            $334,500 in South Dakota to $19.9 m illion in Texas. In this regard, the
                            states must establish new driver’s test sites or contract for third-party
                            testing, hire additional personnel to administer the program, purchase
                            new computer hardware and software, modify existing driver licensing
                            data bases, train state examiners, develop and distribute new driver’s
                            test manuals, and pay for using the CDLIS.

                            Federal grants will offset a part of the states’CDL costs, but the funds
                            available for each state will depend on when the state begins driver test-
                            ing and licensing. For example, a state that connects to the CDLIS and


                            Page 19               GAO/RCED-90-78 Progress in Testing and Licensing Commercial Drivers
                           Chapter 3
                           States Need to Accelerate Testing and
                           Licensing to Meet April 1992 Deadline




                           begins driver testing and licensing by the end of fiscal year 1989 could
                           receive about $900,000’ in federal grants. However, any additional
                           funds will come from the states, including those funds generated by
                           commercial driver licensing fees. With one exception, all states intend to
                           increase these fees. We found that when the states increase their licens-
                           ing fees to offset part of their program costs, a commercial driver can
                           expect to pay on average an additional $32 for the new CDL. The
                           increases will vary from state to state, with the resulting price for a CDL
                           ranging from $10 to $125.


LNfhlties  in Connecting   AAMVA, state, and FIIWA officials told us that the development or modifi-
to CDLIS May Delay State   cation of state computer systems needed to access the CDLIS is the
                           requirement most likely to delay the start-up of the states’ CDL pro-
WI, Programs               grams. Most states do not plan to begin testing and licensing until con-
                           nection to the information system is completed. Uefore a state can issue
                           a CDL, it must have the computer capability to query the CDLIS to deter-
                           mine if a driver has licenses in other states or a suspended or revoked
                           license in another state. It also must be able to respond to other states’
                           requests for driver licensing information and transmit the requested
                           information to them. State officials noted that to access the CDIJS and
                           transmit driver information to it, the states first must identify the
                           equipment and software required to connect to the CDLIS and communi-
                           cate with other states.

                           AAMVA officials stated that establishing state connections to the CDLIS has
                           proved particularly difficult because of inadequate coordination among
                           state data processing and driver licensing personnel. A state official
                           responsible for the CDLIS development noted that as the states have
                           learned more about the data processing challenges they confront, they
                           have realized that the CDLIS applications will be more difficult to com-
                           plete than they had anticipated. In March 1989 AAMVA and the contrac-
                           tor that developed the CDIJS established teams that are available to
                           assist states in overcoming data processing problems.

                           As of April 1989, over three-fourths of the states either had not begun
                           to identify the technical changes needed in their hardware or software
                           specifications or had only begun to develop a preliminary needs list.
                           AAMVA and state officials cited concerns about the ability of some states



                           ‘California is the,only state likely to receive the maximum funding becausegrants available to t,he
                           states in t’is~d year 1990 arc available only to states that have begun testing and licensing.



                           Page 20                 GAO/RCED-90-78      Progress in Testing and Licensing Commercial      Drivers
Chapter 3
States Need to Accelerate Testing and
Licensing to Meet April 1992 Deadline




to complete the technical changes to their computer systems to ensure
timely testing and licensing of commercial drivers.

In addition, the states must develop computer software to separate their
records on commercial and noncommercial drivers and translate their
unique codes for traffic offenses and license status into terms that other
states requesting out-of-state driver licensing information will recognize.
For example, Illinois officials stated that the task of identifying their
commercial drivers will require the state to attach a special three-digit
code to about 8 million driver history records.

The states also must expand their driver licensing data bases to include
more information. Our questionnaire results show that some states’ data
bases do not include such information as social security numbers and
certain types of driver convictions. In addition, state data bases have to
be able to classify drivers in accordance with the federal classification
system, which identifies drivers based on the types of vehicles they
drive.

About 3 months before a state can begin licensing commercial drivers,
its computer system must be tested to ensure that it can communicate
successfully with the CDLIS. The test also ensures that the state’s system
can input and format specified information into the CDLIS without
adversely affecting the existing data base. State officials noted that
their ability to complete the tasks necessary to connect to the system
quickly depends on the manpower and resources available and the
degree of existing automation. For example, California officials noted
that their state did not have to purchase a new computer for the CDL
program but only provide for additional disk space for the CDLIS activi-
ties California’s existing automation contributed to its ability to become
the first state to use the CDLIS and begin driver testing and licensing.

In October 1988, 22 states estimated that they would connect to the
CDLIS by the end of 1989,24 by the end of 1990, and 5 by the end of
1991. However, by October 1989, the dates some states estimated for
connecting to the CDLIS had slipped: Six estimated that they would imple-
ment the CDLIS by the end of 1989,31 by the end of 1990,13 by the end
of 1991, and 1 in 1992. As of October 1989, only California and Wash-
ington were using the CDLIS to issue CDLS.




Page 21               GAO/RCED-90-78    Progress in Testing and Licensing Commercial   Drivers
                       Chapter 3
                       States Need to Accelerate Testing and
                       Licensing to Meet April 1992 Deadline




                       Because of the tight time frames resulting from the Commercial Motor
Driver Testing and     Vehicle Safety Act of 1986 and FHWA regulations, and the numerous leg-
Licensing May Not Be   islative, financial, and computer requirements that states have to com-
CQmpleted by April     plete, the time the states have left to complete driver testing and
                       licensing is 2 years or less. The limited time forces states to spend addi-
1992                   tional resources to circumvent their normal license renewal cycles in
 I                     order to complete testing and licensing in 2 years rather than 4 years.

                       For 33 states, 2 years may not be enough time. Thirteen of these states
                       have indicated that they may not be able to meet the April 1, 1992,
                       deadline. According to our analysis, about 360,000 drivers in these
                       states may not be tested and licensed on time. As a result, their ability to
                       earn a living by driving a commercial motor vehicle may be threatened
                       because they would not be qualified to operate a commercial motor vehi-
                       cle under the act’s provisions.

                       In addition, we identified 20 other states that propose to test and license
                       one-fourth or more of their drivers in the last 3 months before the April
                       1992 deadline. Three of these 20 states said they will test and license
                       over one-half of their drivers during this period. As discussed later in
                       this chapter, a number of states have indicated that they will begin test-
                       ing their drivers before they can issue them CDLS through the CDLIS. This
                       practice should help reduce the burden the states face in trying to test
                       and license all of their drivers in the final months prior to April 1992.

                       To illustrate the task the states are facing, figure 3.2 compares the
                       number of drivers Illinois must test and license by April 1992 and the
                       number that the state would test and license during its normal 4-year
                       renewal cycle. The state expects to test and license about 425,000 com-
                       mercial drivers, In contrast to its normal renewal cycle, under which Illi-
                       nois tests and licenses about 8,800 drivers per month, the state’s
                       proposed plan nearly doubles the number of drivers tested and licensed
                       in 1991-about 16,600 per month. In addition, in the first 3 months of
                       1992, the state plans to increase further the number of drivers it will
                       test and license to about 66,600 per month-a 650 percent increase over
                       its normal monthly rate. Illinois officials responsible for the state’s CDL
                       program stated that they are trying to develop their CDL program to
                       accommodate what they acknowledge to be an ambitious schedule.




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       ,



                                        Chapter 3
                                        States Need to Accelerate Testing and
                                        Licensing to Meet April 1992 Deadline




Figorel3.2: Illinois’ Accelerated CDL
Progra/m                                80   Ddvua Todd   and Llcensad Par Month (ThouaWe)




                                        Time Period




Other Factors                           drivers, other factors will influence their ability to test and license driv-
Affecting States’                       ers on time. For example, states with lim ited prior testing experience,
Ability to Meet the                     high driver’s test failure rates, and a commercial driver population
                                        larger than expected will have problems testing and licensing all of their
Deadline                                drivers, However, states that can begin driver testing before being con-
                                        nected to the CDLIS (after which they will be able to issue CDLS) and that
                                        can exempt a large portion of their drivers from the skills test will be in
                                        a better position to finish both testing and licensing by the deadline.


Lim ited State Testing                  I3efore 1989, only 13 states required behind-the-wheel testing of com-
Experience                              mercial driver applicants. Twenty states waived the state test if the
                                        employer or a training school certified the applicant’s qualifications,
                      ”                 while 18 states required no testing or certifications before issuing a
                                        license. Among the 33 states that may have difficulties completing
                                        driver testing and licensing by April 1, 1992, only 7 states previously



                                        Page 23               GAO/RCED-90-78     Progress in Testing and Licensing Commercial   Drivers
                          Chapter 3
                          States Need to Accelerate Testing and
                          Licensing to Meet April 1992 Deadline




__.._.,_
    - _.._.._-_.
            ----..
                          required behind-the-wheel testing of commercial drivers. The remaining
                          inexperienced states may encounter initial problems as they begin new
                          programs to test their drivers under the new federal requirements.


High Test Failure Rates   The rate at which commercial drivers fail the knowledge and skills tests
                          will also affect how quickly the states can test and license their drivers.
                          High failure rates will require the states to spend additional time and
                          money to retest their drivers. The initial failure rates for knowledge and
                          skills tests in California were 37 and 56 percent, respectively. These
                          compare to failure rates for the superceded knowledge and skills tests of
                          20 and 14 percent, respectivelySz California’s driver failure rates
                          declined to 32 percent for the knowledge test and 46 percent for the
                          skills tests after the first 6 months of the program. California officials
                          attribute the decline in the failure rates to improved driver preparation.

                          In addition, the tests developed in accordance with federal standards
                          are more difficult and will require more time for the states to administer
                          and the drivers to complete. For example, the California knowledge test
                          increased from 25 to up to 80 questions. California officials stated that
                          CDLapplicants have needed between 60 and 90 minutes to complete each
                          of the state’s knowledge and skills tests. On average, it took drivers 45
                          to 60 minutes to complete the previous tests. The longer and more diffi-
                          cult knowledge test may pose particular problems for drivers with read-
                          ing deficiencies. To help drivers with reading problems, FIIWA contracted
                          with AAMVA to develop alternative methods for testing these drivers.


1Jnknown Commercial       A state’s ability to complete driver testing and licensing also depends on
Driver Population         the actual number of drivers who will apply for a CDL. Government and
                          industry studies of the commercial driver population in the nation show
                          estimates ranging from 5.5 to 9 million drivers.

                          FIIWA calculates that approximately 5.5 million commercial drivers are
                          subject to the act’s testing and licensing requirements. However, Califor-
                          nia officials who assisted AAMVA in developing cost estimates for the
                          CDIJS contend that the nation’s commercial driver population may be
                          lower than 5.5 million. The officials stated that higher licensing fees and
                          the additional time required to study for and pass the more stringent
                          knowledge and skills tests may dissuade many drivers from obtaining a

                          ‘Prior to 1989 California’s skills tests did not include pre-trip and road tests. The 14 percent only
                          refers to the failure rate for the basic test.



                          Page 24                  GAO/RCED-90-78      Progress in Testing and Licensing ConunerciaI        Drivers
--                       Chapter 3
                         States Need to Accelerate Testing and
                         Licensing to Meet April 1992 Deadline




                         CDL. They noted that no state knows exactly how many commercial driv-
                         ers must obtain a CDL because few states have a classified licensing sys-
                         tern that meets federal standards. Such a system would allow a state to
                         determine more precisely the number of drivers subject to the act’s
                         requirements.

                         On the other hand, state responses to our questionnaire indicate that the
                         commercial driver population in the nation could be as high as 9 million
                         drivers. Several state representatives indicated that the estimates were
                         based on recent state surveys of the commercial driver populations in
                         their states. Other state representatives noted that their estimates were
                         “best guesses.”Not knowing the size of the commercial driver popula-
                         tion will affect a state’s ability to develop a CDL program as well as com-
                         plete driver testing and licensing by April 1, 1992.

                         The three factors discussed above may hinder the states’ efforts to com-
                         plete driver testing and licensing by April 1, 1992. Other factors, such as
                         separating testing from licensing and exempting drivers from the skills
                         test, will help states meet the deadline.


Separating Testing and   In an effort to help test and license all drivers by April 1992, some
Licensing Procedures     states plan to begin testing commercial drivers before they can issue
                         them licenses through the CDLIS. AAMVA and state officials indicated that
                         testing drivers is more time consuming than checking a driver through
                         the CDLIS and issuing a license. For example, Ohio began testing its driv-
                         ers in January 1990 but will not issue CDLS until July 1990, when the
                         state plans to connect to the CDLIS. In the interim, Ohio plans to issue the
                         tested driver an Ohio commercial driver’s license, which it will replace
                         with an official CDL after the state checks the CDLIS.

                         Fourteen of the 33 states that may have difficulties completing testing
                         and licensing by April 1, 1992, have indicated they will separate testing
                         from licensing.” Although the average length of time gained by this
                         action is limited to about 6 months, it may help some of these states
                         complete testing and licensing by the deadline.


Exempting Drivers From   The number of drivers that a state can exempt from the skills test also
the Skills Test          will affect the state’s ability to complete driver testing by April 1, 1992
                         Federal testing regulations allow states to exempt (or “grandfather”)

                         “Seven other states plan to separate testing from licensing.



                         Page 26                  GAO/RCED-90-78     Progress in Testing and Licensing Commercial   Drivers
,.,- -p .“...- .-.-... ..--
      ,                       Chapter3
                              States Need to Accelerate Testing and
                              Licensing to Meet April 1992 Deadline




                              from the skills test those commercial drivers with good driving records
                              over the past 2 years. However, all drivers must still take and pass the
                              knowledge test. Between January and July 1989, California exempted
                              93 percent of existing commercial drivers applying for a CDL from the
                              skills test. A California official stated that by administering the skills
                              tests to fewer drivers, the state will be better able to meet the April
                              1992 deadline for driver testing and licensing. FHWA and state officials
                              estimate that overall the states will be able to exempt between 80 and
                              85 percent of their commercial drivers.


                              At least 33 states will have a difficult time completing driver testing and
Cbnclusions                   licensing by April 1, 1992, unless they overcome implementation prob-
                              lems and accelerate program activity. More active FHWA involvement is
                              necessary to help states meet the deadline. The states are confronted
                              with two challenges that affect their abilities to meet the driver compli-
                              ance requirements. They must (1) establish a CDL program and (2) test
                              and license all commercial drivers by the deadline. To address the first
                              challenge, the states must complete a number of tasks, including con-
                              forming their existing commercial motor vehicle statutes and regulations
                              to the minimum federal standards and changing their existing computer
                              systems to connect to the CDLIS.

                              Once the states meet the first challenge, they will have about 2 years to
                              test and license all of their commercial drivers. We found that 33 states
                              may have difficulties meeting this second challenge in such a short
                              period of time. Specifically, 13 states indicated that they may not meet
                              the April 1992 deadline to test and license commercial drivers; we esti-
                              mate that 360,000 drivers in these states may then be prohibited from
                              driving their commercial vehicles. In addition, we identified another 20
                              states that plan to test and license a substantial portion of their commer-
                              cial drivers in the 3 months prior to the April 1992 deadline. This will
                              require them to test and license many more drivers than they normally
                              do each month.

                              Most states do not plan to test and license their drivers until they have
                              connected to the CDLIS. However, the development of automation sys-
                              tems compatible with the CDLIS has become the task most likely to delay
                              the start of the states’ testing and licensing programs. If states can com-
                              plete this task earlier, they will have more time to test and license their
                              drivers and meet the deadline.




                              Page 26               GAO/RCED-90-78    Progress in Testing and Licensing Commercial   Drivers
-.-L---L--

                      Chapter 3
                      States Need to Accelerate Testing and
                      Licensing to Meet April 1992 Deadline




                      FIIWA should continue to help the states accelerate the implementation of
                      their CDL programs and the testing and licensing of their drivers by iden-
                      tifying the specific computer and other tasks the states have yet to com-
                      plete. In cooperation with each state, FHWA could then develop plans to
                      ensure that all drivers are tested and licensed by April 1992. The states
                      also could take steps to meet the deadline by beginning their testing pro-
                      grams while they resolve their problems in connecting to the CDLIS. Since
                      testing drivers is more time-consuming than checking a driver’s name
                      through the CDLIS and issuing the license, states that are able to take this
                      approach would be in a better position to complete driver testing and
                      licensing on time.

                      However, some states may still be unable to meet the deadline for driver
                      compliance. Accordingly, the Secretary of Transportation should be pre-
                      pared to protect drivers in these states who are not tested and licensed
                      by April 1, 1992. Regardless of the Secretary’s action in this regard,
                      additional FHWA action is needed to ensure that the act’s primary intent
                      of removing unsafe commercial drivers from the nation’s highways is
                      met as soon as possible.


                      We recommend that the Secretary of Transportation direct the Adminis-
Recommendations       tratOr,FIIWA,tO

                  l   encourage the states to begin their testing programs while they resolve
                      difficulties in connecting to the national information system and
                  l   develop, in cooperation with each state, action plans to help ensure that
                      each state completes testing and licensing by April 1992.

                      We recommend, in addition to the above, that the Secretary be prepared
                      to protect drivers who may not be tested and licensed because their
                      states do not meet the April 1992 deadline. For example, the Secretary
                      could use the act’s waiver authority to protect those drivers from fines
                      and penalties until their states have completed testing and licensing.



Agency Comments

F’HWA        ’        FMWA officials responsible for the CDL program provided comments on
                      the draft report in December 1989. Based on their comments, we added



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            Chapter 3
            States Need to Accelerate Testing and
            Licensing to Meet April 1992 Deadline




            additional information on FHWA activities to assist states in implementing
            their CDL programs and made other changes as appropriate.

            FHWA officials told us that in October 1989 FHWA established a CDL Imple-
            mentation Team to provide states direct assistance and support in the
            establishment of state CDL programs. The Team plans, among other
            things, to review state implementation plans, identify potential prob-
            lems, and recommend solutions. The Team plans to meet collectively
            with state CDL officials for each of FHWA'S nine regions to accomplish
            these tasks. We agree with FHWA'S recent effort and believe it may help
            the states establish their CDL programs more quickly. However, once
            states accomplish this, they face the difficult task of testing and licens-
            ing all of their commercial drivers in the limited time remaining. FIIWA
            officials acknowledged that they had not addressed this task, which
            may be particularly difficult to accomplish in those states that plan to
            test and license large portions of their commercial drivers in the 3
            months prior to the April 1992 deadline. Detailed state-specific action
            plans are needed to address this potential problem and to help ensure
            that the states are in a position to complete driver testing and licensing
            on time.

            FHWA officials also stated that our recommendation to encourage states
            to separate testing from licensing was unnecessary since FIIWA had
            informed the states of this option. However, FIIWA officials were unable
            to furnish any written guidance that they had sent to the states docu-
            menting this policy. In fact, state officials have indicated to us that
            FIIWA'S policy is unclear since the agency had originally encouraged the
            states to conduct testing and licensing concurrently and thereby avoid
            overburdening commercial drivers. We believe that FHWA needs to make
            a definitive statement encouraging the states to begin their testing pro-
            grams while they resolve their problems related to the CDLIS.

            FIIWA officials agreed that the Secretary should be prepared to protect
            drivers in those states that are unable to meet the deadline. They noted
            that FIIWA is considering options designed to allow drivers in such states
            to be tested and/or licensed in states that have active CDL programs.


AAMVA       AAMVA officials stated that the report is generally comprehensive and
            thorough. The officials said that AAMVA supports FHWA'S Implementation
        *   Team approach and believes continued FHWA involvement will help the
            states implement their CDL programs more rapidly. However, AAMVA offi-
            cials stated that for all of the states to resolve remaining problems, and


            Page 28               GAO/RCED-90-78    Progress in Testing and Licensing Commercial   Drivers
Chapter 3
States Need to Accelerate Testing and
Licensing to Meet April 1992 Deadline




to ensure the testing and licensing of all commercial drivers by April 1,
1992, additional federal funding to the states would be needed.




Page 29               GAO/WED-90-78     Progress in Testing and Licensing Commercial   Drivers
Appendix I

Qmmercial Driver’s License Roles
ahd Responsibilities

                         To carry out its oversight responsibilities of the CDL program, the
Federal Highway          Department of Transportation initially established an internal coordina-
Administration’s Roles   tion group. The group consisted of representatives from Department
and Responsibilities     divisions involved with the CDL program and was responsible for coordi-
                         nating the development and review of the federal testing and licensing
                         standards and of the technical specifications of the CDL@. It also sought
                         to involve the states and the trucking industry in publicizing the 1986
                         Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act’s requirements and ensuring state
                         implementation of their respective CDL programs.

                         The Secretary of Transportation delegated to FHWA responsibility for
                         implementing the act’s testing, licensing, and certain CDLIS requirements;
                         FHWA designated certain offices to serve as focal points. FHWA'S Office of
                         Motor Carrier Standards developed the minimum federal testing and
                         licensing regulations and responded to state requests for specific inter-
                         pretation of the regulations. In addition, this office developed a checklist
                         for assessing state compliance with the testing and licensing require-
                         ments and for approving the states’ CDL programs. The Office of Motor
                         Carrier Information Management and Analysis was the focal point for
                         the development and establishment of the CDLIS. This office worked with
                         AAMVA and states to select the contractor that designed the CDLIS and
                         now operates and maintains the system.

                         FHWA'S Office of Planning is responsible for issuing and monitoring four
                         types of grants that the act provides to DOTand the states for their
                         efforts in implementing the nationwide and state CDL programs. As
                         explained below, basic, supplemental, clearinghouse, and information
                         system grants have helped FHWA and the states develop and implement
                         different aspects of the CDL programs.

                       . Basic grants are available for developing and administering a program
                         to test and license commercial drivers. These grants are provided to eli-
                         gible states and are used for numerous implementation activities, such
                         as hiring a CDL coordinator, developing a test program, and training
                         state licensing examiners. Grants of $100,000 are made available for
                         each state for fiscal years 1987-91I
                       * Supplemental grants are available for national and state programs. For
                         fiscal years 1987-89, the grants were used to fund national program
                         activities, such as the development of driver testing materials. For fiscal
                         years 1990-91, these grants will be distributed to the states based on the
                         number of tests administered and licenses issued. A total of $16 million
                         will be available under these grants.



                         Page 30           GAO/RCED-90-78   Progress in Testing and Liceneing Commercial   Drivers
    f


                            Appendix I
                            Commercial Driver’s License Roles
                            and Reeponsibilitles




                        l Clearinghouse grants are available to states that agree to participate in
                          the CDLprogram. A minimum of $100,000 per year is available to each
                          state under these grants for fiscal years 1989-9 1.
                        . Information system grants are targeted for the development of the CDLIS.
                          Six million dollars from the supplemental grant fund is available to FIIWA
                          for fiscal years 1987-89.

                            FIIWA’S field office planners were designated as the primary contacts for
                            state officials responsible for obtaining the grants. In addition, the field
                            office planners track state CDL legislation and respond to state questions
                            related to the CDL program. Because field office planners often do not
                            have expertise in testing, licensing, and CDLIS applications, they directed
                            the states’ questions in these areas to appropriate FHWA officials in
                            headquarters.


                            AAMVA and state officials began work on the CDL program immediately
American Association        after the act’s passage, when they established a committee on testing
of Motor Vehicle            standards, The committee, established in February 1987, was composed
Administrators’ Roles       of licensing officials from 12 states, as well as AAMVA and FIIWA officials.
                            In general, the committee was responsible for overseeing the develop-
and Responsibilities        ment of material the states could use for testing their commercial driv-
                            ers. Using an FIIWA grant, the committee selected and worked with a
                            contractor to develop and validate model CDL tests that the states could
                            use to meet the federal standards, The contractor chosen, Essex Corpo-
                            ration, developed and provided the material states would need to admin-
                            ister their tests, including the actual knowledge and skills tests,
                            examination forms, scoring templates, scoring instructions, test adminis-
                            tration manuals, and driver’s manuals.

                            In .Junc 1987 AAMVA established a CDLIS committee, also consisting of 12
                            state representatives with data processing expertise. The CDLIS commit-
                            tee developed the technical specifications for the nationwide informa-
                            tion system, requested proposals, and selected a contractor to design the
                            system. The contractor chosen-EDS Federal Corporation-designed,
                            developed, and implemented the CDLIS and will provide for its ongoing
                            maintenance. FIIWA paid for the system’s development through its infor-
                            mation system grants; state user fees will pay for the ongoing operation.
                            The system was available for the states to enter driver licensing infor-
                            mation in *January 1989.

                            AAMVA also established a model law committee consisting of representa-
                            tives from states’ attorney general offices. The committee was charged


                            Page 31               GAO/RCED-90-78   Progress in Testing and Licensing Commercial   Drivers
.-.--y-   .._~-.---
                      Appendix I
      ,               Commercial Driver’s License Roles
      ,
                      and Responsibilities




                      with developing draft CDL legislation that the states could incorporate
                      readily into state law. The model law that the committee developed,
                      which was finalized in November 1988, details the act’s provisions and
                      FIIWA implementing regulations. States’adoption of the model law has
                      helped to ensure uniformity among the states’ CDL legislation. Although
                      the act established minimum standards for licensing commercial drivers,
                      the model law provides alternative language in several sections to assist
                      states wishing to adopt more stringent licensing standards.

                      AAMVA encouraged the states to establish a CDL coordinator, who serves
                      as the state’s primary focal point for implementing the act’s provisions.
                      AAMVA sponsored seminars and workshops to help the CDL coordinators
                      and other state licensing officials better understand the administrative
                      and technical challenges in developing state CDL programs. AAMVA also
                      advises the states on whether their automation systems are compatible
                      with the CDLIS and has established a program to train state examiners on
                      how to administer the new testing and licensing requirements.

                      Overall, AAMVA monitors the progress of states’ implementation of their
                      CDL programs and issues status reports detailing when the states will
                      pass their CDL legislation, begin testing their commercial drivers, and
                      connect to the CDLIS. AAMVA has acted as an important source of informa-
                      tion to the states on the federal government’s and individual states’
                      progress in implementing CDL programs.




                      Page 32              GAO/RCED-90-78   Progress in Testing and Licensing Commercial   Drivers
   .



Fob-teen States Yet to Enact CDL Legislation
(As of October 1989)

               Alaska
               Connecticut
               Delaware
               Iowa
               Kentucky
               Massachusetts
               New York
               New Jersey
               Oklahoma
               Pennsylvania
               Rhode Island
               Vermont
               Washington, D.C.
               Wisconsin




        Y




               Page 33            GAO/RCED-90-78   Progress in Testing and Licensing Commercial   Drivers
A&ondix   III

IGmned Dates for State CDL Testing and
Ihcensing(As of October 2,1989)

                                                                                            Planned date
                                                                                     To begin
                                                                                     testinga        zYe
                12 States Planning to Begin CDL Program in 1989
                CaliforniaL                                                          Jan.   1989        Jan. 1989
                North Dakota”                                                        Jul.   1989        Jan. 1990
                Tennessee”                                                           Jul.
                                                                                      .I_   1989---...  Oct. 1991
                New Hampshire”                                               __--    Aug.   1989        Dec. 1989
                Marylandd                                                            Sep.   1989        Jan. 1990
                Georaia”                                                             Oct.   1989        Nov. 1989
                Montana                                                              Oct.   1989        Jan. 1990
                South Dakota                                                         Oct.   1989        Dec. 1989
                Utah”                                         __-----.____           Oct.   1989        Nov.
                                                                                              --....- ~-..      1989
                                                                                                           ~~. ..~~~
                Washinaton”                                                          Oct.   1989        Oct. 1989
                West Virginia                                 ..-.-~__.              Nov.   1989        Jan. 1992
                Pennsylvania               -~    ~___-.             ..~              Nov.   1989       Apr. 1991
                3ZfStates Planning to Begin CDL- Program
                                                 ..____~ in 1990
                                                              ___-..-.
                Arizona     ~-                                                       Jan.1990         Jan. 1990
                Arkansas                                                             Jan.
                                                                                     Jan,1990         Jan.    1990
                                                                                         1ggo .. ~-~~..Aprl-i~go
                Connecticut
                       _ ~~~~ - ..-      ~~- ..- - ~~~                                               ..~~. .~-.. ..~
                Hawaii                                                              Jan??$r           Jan. 1991
                Louisiana                                                           Jan. 1990         Jan. 1990
                Maine                                                               Jan. 1990         Jan. 1991
                                                                               ..___~__
                Michigan                                                            Jan. 1990         Jan. 1990
                Minnesota                                                           Jan. 1990         Jan. 1990
                Mississlppr                                                         Jan. 1990         Jan. 1990
                Nevada
                New Jersey
                Ohio
                Oklahoma                                                             Jan. 1990         Apr. 1990
                Oregon                                                               Jan. 1990         Apr. 1990
                Virainia-                                                            Jan.-.--~.
                                                                                    ~~-     1990 ~~~.  Jan.
                                                                                                     ..~. ..- 1990
                Wyoming                                                              Jan, 1990         Jul. 1990
                Rhode Island                                                         Mar. 1990         Mar. 1990
                Delaware                                                             Apr. 1990         Apr. 1990
                Idaho                                                                Apr. 1990         Apr. 1990
                Illinois                                            -..--            Apr.__-1990--~- .-Juc~
                                                                                                       Apr. -11990
                                                                                                               g90
                South Carolina                                                       Apr. 1990
                Texas                                                                Apr. 1990         Apr. 1990
                Florida                                                              Jul. 1990         Apr. 1991
                                      ..~~~~
                                          ~~
                Indiana                                                              Jul. 1990         Jul. 1990
                                                                                                      (continued)




                Page 34               GAO/RCED-90-78      Progress in Testing and Licensing Commercial     Drivers
Appendix III
Planned Dates for State CDL Testing and
Licensing




                                                                             Planned date
                                                                      To begin        To issue
                                                                      testing’        CDLsb
Iowa                                                                  Jul.   1990       Jul.   1990
Missouri                                                              Jul.   1990       Jul.   19%
New York                                                              Jul.   1990       Jan.   199%
Vermont
-_--                                                                  Jul.   1990       Jul.   1990
Nebraska                                                              Sep.   1990       Sep.   1990
New Mexico                                                            Sep.   1990       Sep.   1990
North Carolina                                                        Sep.   1990       Sep.   1990
Washington, D.C.                                                      se;.   1990       Sep.   1990
Alabama                                                               Oct.   1990       Oct.   1990
6 States Planning to Begin CDL Program in 1991
Alaska                                                                Jan. 1991         Jan.   1991
Colorado                                                              Jan. 1991         Jan.   1991
Kansas                                                                Jan 1991          Jan,   1991
Kentucky                                                              Jan. 1991         Jul.   1991
Wisconsin                                                             Jan. 1991         Jan.   1991
Massachusetts                                                         Aor. 1991         Aor.   1991
“Includes both knowledge and skills tests.
%cludes checking the COLE for multiple licenses or a suspended or revoked license.
‘Began testing and licensing.
“Began testing.
Source: AAMVA.




Page 36                  GAO/RCED-90.78      Progress in Testing and Licensing Commercial   Drivers
      I
   Abpendix IV


!I1’ vajor Contributors to This Report


                         1
   R;esources,               Benjamin E. Worrell, Assignment Manager
   Community, and
   E@onomic
   flevelopment Division,
   I@shington, D.C.

                             James E. Hatcher, Assistant Regional Manager
   Qincinnati Regional       Donald J. Heller, Issue Area Manager
   Office                    Joseph A. Christoff, Evaluator-in-Charge
                             Julie A. Schneiberg, Evaluator




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