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Commercial Driver's License Standards: Recreation Vehicle Industry Association Application for Exemption

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American Government Recreational Vehicles Topics:  Recreation Vehicle Industry Association

Commercial Driver's License Standards: Recreation Vehicle Industry Association Application for Exemption

T.F. Scott Darling, III
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
April 6, 2015


[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 65 (Monday, April 6, 2015)]
[Notices]
[Pages 18493-18495]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-07811]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

[Docket No. FMCSA-2014-0352]


Commercial Driver's License Standards: Recreation Vehicle 
Industry Association Application for Exemption

AGENCY: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), DOT.

ACTION: Notice of final disposition; grant of application for 
exemption.

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SUMMARY: FMCSA announces its decision to grant an exemption from the 
Federal commercial driver's license (CDL) requirements for drivers who 
deliver certain newly manufactured motorhomes and recreational vehicles 
(RVs) to dealers or trade shows before retail sale (driveaway 
operations). The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) 
requested the exemption because compliance with the CDL requirements 
prevents its members from implementing more efficient operations due to 
a shortage of CDL drivers. The exemption covers employees of all U.S. 
driveaway companies, RV manufacturers, and RV dealers transporting RVs 
between manufacturing sites and dealer locations and for movements 
prior to first retail sale. Drivers engaged in driveaway deliveries of 
RVs with gross vehicle weight ratings of 26,001 pounds or more will not 
be required to have a CDL as long as the empty RVs have gross vehicle 
weights or gross combination weights that do not meet or exceed 26,001 
pounds, and any RV trailers towed by other vehicles weigh 10,000 pounds 
or less. RV units that have a combined gross vehicle weight exceeding 
26,000 pounds are not covered by the exemption.

DATES: This exemption is effective April 6, 2015 and expires on April 
6, 2017.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mrs. Pearlie Robinson, Driver and 
Carrier Operations Division; Office of Carrier, Driver and Vehicle 
Safety Standards; Telephone: 202-366-4325, Email: MCPSD@dot.gov, 
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, 1200 New Jersey Avenue 
SE., Washington, DC 20590-0001.
    Docket: For access to the docket to read background documents or 
comments submitted to notice requesting public comments on the 
exemption application, go to www.regulations.gov at any time or visit 
Room W12-140 on the ground level of the West Building, 1200 New Jersey 
Avenue SE., Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., ET, Monday 
through Friday, except Federal holidays. The on-line Federal document 
management system is available 24 hours each day, 365 days each year. 
The docket number is listed at the beginning of this notice.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    FMCSA has authority under 49 U.S.C. 31136(e) and 31315 to grant 
exemptions from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. FMCSA 
must publish a notice of each exemption request in the Federal Register 
(49 CFR 381.315(a)). The Agency must provide the public an opportunity 
to inspect the information relevant to the application, including any 
safety analyses that have been conducted. The Agency must also provide 
an opportunity for public comment on the request.
    The Agency reviews the safety analyses and the public comments, and 
determines whether granting the exemption would likely achieve a level 
of safety equivalent to, or greater than, the level that would be 
achieved by the current regulation (49 CFR 381.305). The decision of 
the Agency must be published in the Federal Register (49 CFR 
381.315(b)) with the reason for the grant or denial, and, if granted, 
the specific person or class of persons receiving the exemption, and 
the regulatory provision or provisions from which exemption is granted. 
The notice must also specify the effective period of the exemption (up 
to 2 years), and explain the terms and conditions of the exemption. The 
exemption may be renewed (49 CFR 381.300(b)).

Application for Exemption

    The RVIA is the national trade association representing RV 
manufacturers and their component parts suppliers who together build 
more than 98 percent of all RVs produced in the United States. An RV is 
a vehicle designed as temporary living quarters for recreational, 
camping, travel and seasonal use. RVs may be motorized (motorhomes) or 
towable (travel trailers, fifth wheel trailers, folding camping 
trailers and truck campers).
    The RVIA requested an exemption from the CDL requirements under 49 
CFR 383.91(a)(1)-383.91(a)(2) when transporting RVs with an actual 
vehicle weight not exceeding 26,000 pounds, or a combination of RV 
trailer/tow vehicle with the actual weight of the towed unit not 
exceeding 10,000 pounds and the gross combined weight not exceeding 
26,000 pounds. In other words, RVIA requested that CDLs not be required 
for driveaway operations of single or combination vehicles with a gross 
vehicle weight rating at or above 26,001 pounds, as long as the actual 
weight of the vehicle or combination is below 26,001 pounds. RV units 
that have a ship weight and combined gross vehicle weight exceeding 
26,000 pounds would not be covered by the exemption. RVIA contended 
that compliance with the CDL rule prevents its members from 
implementing more efficient operations due to a shortage of CDL 
drivers. RVIA asserted that FMCSA should look at the actual weight of 
the RV when it is manifested as empty and should not require a CDL 
during the short time the RV is not loaded, does not carry freight, and 
is transported from the factory where it is manufactured, or from a 
holding area, to a dealership site.
    In its application, RVIA contended that a shortage of drivers with 
CDLs is having a significant impact on the RV industry, which is just 
recovering from the 2008-2009 economic downturn. A large percentage of 
RV sales occur during the spring buying season. The jump in RV 
shipments trends stronger each month, increasing consistently from 
February through June. These excess units regularly accumulate in RV

[[Page 18494]]

transporters' yards. It is in this period that there is insufficient 
commercial driver capacity for RV transportation. The seasonal 
commercial driver shortage creates delays in the delivery of product to 
consumers and potentially reduces the RV sales. Consumers who wish to 
purchase an RV may have to wait weeks or months to receive delivery of 
their purchase because there are not enough drivers with CDLs to 
transport the vehicles from the factory to the dealership, especially 
since each RV must be individually transported. While these delays are 
costly and inconvenient to the RV industry and consumers, the greater 
costs result in potential lost sales to consumers who are unwilling to 
wait for their purchase.
    RVIA stated that the exemption would apply to all individuals who 
are employees of driveaway-towaway companies, RV manufacturers, and RV 
dealers. RVIA contended that, due to the class nature and the number of 
parties that will be affected by the exemption, it is not feasible or 
practicable to provide the names of individuals or transporters 
responsible for use or operation of these CMVs. RVIA asserted that 
exempting drivers delivering a subset of newly manufactured RVs from 
the Class A and B CDL requirements would likely result in the level of 
safety equivalent to, or greater than, the level achieved without the 
exemption. RVIA noted that a CDL is not required to operate these RVs 
when they are in personal use.

Method To Ensure an Equivalent or Greater Level of Safety

    RVIA contended that, if the exemption were granted, the level of 
safety associated with transportation of RVs from manufacturers to 
dealers would likely be equivalent to, or greater than, the level of 
safety obtained by complying with the CDL requirements for the 
following reasons:
     On average, drivers employed by RV manufacturers and 
dealers to deliver RVs have substantially more experience operating RVs 
than a typical driver operating an RV for recreational purposes.
     A thorough analysis using the FMCSA Safety Measurement 
System revealed that the RV driveaway-towaway companies' record of 
0.234 recordable accidents per million miles traveled in 2012 is far 
less than the national average of 0.747 recordable accidents per 
million miles traveled that was used as a benchmark by the FMCSA in 
fiscal years 1994-1996 when developing criteria for ''Factor 6, 
Accident'' of the ``safety rating process.''
     FMCSA established an ``unsatisfactory rating'' threshold 
for all carriers operating outside of a 100 air-mile radius with a 
recordable accident rate greater than 1.5 accidents per million miles 
traveled. Accordingly RVIA claims that the, RV driveaway-towaway 
accident frequency is approximately 640% less than the FMCSA 
unsatisfactory rating threshold for 2012, the most recent year for 
which data is available. [In fact, RVIA's data shows that the accident 
frequency of RVs in 2012 (.234 per million miles) was only 15.6% of 
FMCSA's threshold for an unsatisfactory rating (1.5 accidents per 
million miles) (.23 / 1.5-15.6%)]
     Compared to drivers using RVs for recreational purposes, 
RV manufacturers and driveaway-towaway companies have substantially 
greater economic incentive to systematically train, monitor and 
evaluate their RV drivers with respect to safe operation of RVs because 
of substantially greater exposure to liability for any traffic 
accidents.
     As with any new motor vehicle, newly manufactured RVs are 
much less likely to present a safety concern due to mechanical 
failures.
     Travel distances between the manufacturing sites and 
dealer locations are on average much shorter than typical distances 
which RVs travel when in recreational use and the highway presence of 
RVs transported from manufacturers to dealers is negligible even during 
the peak spring delivery season.
    RVIA asserted that without the exemption, drivers making one-time 
deliveries of new RVs with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) 
exceeding 26,000 pounds, or a gross combination weight rating exceeding 
26,000 inclusive of a towed vehicle with a GVWR of 10,001 pounds or 
higher, will remain subject to CDL requirements even though end-users 
of RVs purchasing them from dealers in the same States would not be 
subject to those requirements and regulations. This anomalous situation 
would continue to materially curb the growth of the RV industry without 
countervailing safety or other benefit to the public. In particular, RV 
manufacturers and dealers would continue to experience a shortage of 
CDL operators during the busy spring season.

Public Comments

    On October 1, 2014, FMCSA published notice of this application, and 
asked for public comment (79 FR 59343). Twelve comments were received 
to the public docket.
    One respondent, the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety 
(Advocates), recommended that the exemption not be granted. The 
Advocates concluded that ``the RVIA application does not meet the 
statutory and regulatory requirements for the exemption. Advocates 
argue that the application fails to consider practical alternatives, 
justify the need for the exemption, provide information on the specific 
countermeasures to be undertaken to ensure that the exemption will 
achieve an equivalent or greater level of safety than would be achieved 
absent the exemption.''
    Ten respondents supported the exemption: Campers Inn; Class 
Transport, Inc.; Florida RV Trade Association; Horizon Transport, Inc.; 
Pennsylvania Recreation Vehicle and Camping Association; Quality Drive-
Away Inc.; Foremost Transport, Inc.; Recreation Vehicle Indiana 
Council; National RV Dealers Association; and Star Fleet Trucking, Inc.
    The American Truck Dealers Division of the National Automobile 
Dealers Association (NADD) also supported the exemption and urged FMCSA 
to expand the requested exemption so that it applies to all new motor 
vehicles with an actual vehicle weight (or combination weight) below 
26,000 lbs.
    All comments are available for review in the docket for this 
notice.

Response to Public Comments and Agency Decision

    The FMCSA has evaluated RVIA's application for exemption and the 
public comments, and has decided to grant the exemption. The RVs 
covered by the exemption all have gross vehicle weight ratings (GVWRs) 
above the 26,001-pound threshold for a CDL, but their actual weights, 
i.e., their gross vehicle weights (GVWs), will remain below that level 
during the driveaway or towaway operation of these vehicles. The Agency 
has held since 1993 that the CDL regulations do not apply to drivers of 
RVs, ``if the vehicle is used strictly for non-business purposes'' 
[Guidance to Q. 3 under 49 CFR 383.3, 58 FR 60734, at 60735, Nov. 17, 
1993; posted on www.fmcsa.dot.gov]. For decades private owners and 
drivers of larger RVs, like those addressed in this exemption, have 
operated without CDLs, often at GVWs well above the 26,001-pound 
threshold, without generating any concern among law enforcement 
professionals that they pose a risk to highway safety. Furthermore, 
most private RV owners almost certainly have less experience behind the 
wheel of the RV than drivers

[[Page 18495]]

employed specifically to deliver such vehicles to a dealer or customer. 
While RVIA demonstrated that the manufacturers and dealers who now 
employ CDL-holders in driveaway/towaway operations have a recordable 
accident rate far below the level that would require an unsatisfactory 
safety rating, the Agency's experience with private RV owners suggests 
that the absence of a CDL would have no discernible effect on safety. 
That is especially likely because the drivers covered by this exemption 
are required to comply with all other applicable safety regulation, 
including medical standards and hours-of-service limits. FMCSA believes 
that it is impracticable for these drivers to obtain a CDL with a 
representative vehicle when the actual vehicle they will operate is an 
RV. With regard to NADD's comment to expand the exemption, FMCSA is 
unable to consider expanding the exemption because the issue was not in 
the original request for public comment. The Agency believes that the 
exemption sought by RVIA will likely achieve a level of safety that is 
equivalent to or greater than, the level of safety achieved without the 
exemption [49 CFR 381.305(a)].

Terms and Conditions of the Exemption

Period of the Exemption

    This exemption from the requirements of 49 CFR 383.91(a)(1)--
383.91(a)(2) is effective during the period of April 6, 2015 through 
April 6, 2017. The exemption will expire on April 6, 2017, 11:59 p.m. 
local time, unless renewed.

Extent of the Exemption

    The exemption is restricted to employees of driveaway-towaway 
companies, RV manufacturers, and RV dealers transporting RVs between 
the manufacturing site and dealer location and for movements prior to 
first retail sale. Drivers covered by the exemption will not be 
required to hold a CDL when transporting RVs with a gross vehicle 
weight not exceeding 26,000 pounds, or a combination of RV trailer/tow 
vehicle with the gross weight of the towed unit not exceeding 10,000 
pounds and the gross combined weight not exceeding 26,000 pounds. These 
drivers must comply with all other applicable provisions of the Federal 
Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.

Preemption

    In accordance with 49 U.S.C. 31315(d), during the period this 
exemption is in effect, no State shall enforce any law or regulation 
that conflicts with or is inconsistent with this exemption with respect 
to a firm or person operating under the exemption.

Notification to FMCSA

    The RVIA must notify FMCSA within 5 business days of any accident 
(as defined in 49 CFR 390.5), involving any of the motor carriers' CMVs 
operating under the terms of this exemption. The notification must 
include the following information:
    a. Date of the accident,
    b. City or town, and State, in which the accident occurred, or 
closest to the accident scene,
    c. Driver's name and driver's license number and State of issuance,
    d. Vehicle number and State license plate number,
    e. Number of individuals suffering physical injury,
    f. Number of fatalities,
    g. The police-reported cause of the accident,
    h. Whether the driver was cited for violation of any traffic laws 
or motor carrier safety regulations, and
    i. The driver's total driving time and total on-duty time period 
prior to the accident.

Reports filed under this provision shall be emailed to MCPSD@DOT.GOV.

Termination

    FMCSA does not believe the drivers covered by this exemption will 
experience any deterioration of their safety record. However, should 
this occur, FMCSA will take all steps necessary to protect the public 
interest, including revocation or restriction of the exemption. The 
FMCSA will immediately revoke or restrict the exemption for failure to 
comply with its terms and conditions.

    Issued on: March 31, 2015.
T.F. Scott Darling, III,
Chief Counsel.
[FR Doc. 2015-07811 Filed 4-3-15; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-EX-P



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