Okay, so we all know 49 CFR 391.21, right? Well if not, that's the piece of U.S. regulation that mandates prospective drivers to complete an employment application. The why behind this application, or rather the results of the application are being questioned. The purpose was to help regulated employers and more specifically to hire quality drivers. But the reality may be unnecessary paperwork with no real insight into driver quality. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is taking steps to possibly remove the requirement.
To be clear, the FMCSA is only discussing the Department of Transportation (DOT) application for prospective drivers. It is not talking about changing or removing any background screening requirements. That means regulated employers in the trucking industry will still be required to verify previous employment information, check accident history and do the regular diligence around drug and alcohol abuse.
The FMCSA's questions seem to target the duplicative & redundant nature of the process. Since regulated employers are still required to do background checks, much of the information documented in the DOT application is repetitive in nature.
The Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 is cited by the FMCSA in their advance notice of proposed rule-making document. There's no question that this regulation increases the amount of paperwork for all stakeholders: drivers, employers, and government bureaucrats.
Neither the Federal Aviation Administration nor the Federal Railroad Administration require an application of this sort, so it is unclear why the FMCSA should go above and beyond common practice throughout the DOT.
This one is pretty straightforward. There's a lot more that goes into the quality of a human being than the long form questions asked in the DOT application. Physical ability to chain up a rig or back a trailer into a tight spot without damage goes completely overlooked here. With other requirements around employment verification and accident history, there's not much left for the DOT application to cover when it comes to quality in this form of documentation.
But the DOT application is still in play. In fact, if people don't comment and help the FMCSA figure out how better to regulate, little to nothing will change. These reasons four reasons are why the DOT application may be under review for change but by no means a guarantee that change will occur. Voice your opinions to the FMCSA and help reduce wasted resources in the trucking industry.
For your convenience, we have shared the 11 questions to which the FMCSA is seeking answers. They shared it in a cumbersome PDF so we figured making them easier to find would be helpful. Let us know what you think in our comments area.
The FMCSA is soliciting comments on 11 questions that give some insight into where they may take things.
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