Wednesday, June 17, 2015

C.R. England wins; Greyhound Bus Lines loses

Uh oh. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is back in the Federal Register with a brand-new notice. In the margins and between the lines, I think they were saying something like this:

Action: Notice of Final Disposition; Grant of Application for Exemption.

Summary: FMCSA announces its decision to exempt C.R. England from the rule that requires a driver cadet be accompanied by a real trucker in the jump seat while the cadet drives home from the driving academy and delivers a revenue load on the way.

England says it’s a great idea. The cadet gets paid, England makes a buck while saving on bus fare, and because another load is delivered in the midst of the Great Driver Shortage, America is a better place. Think about it. All the England cadets who have to go home to pick up CDLs? Could be lots of loads that might otherwise be late or not arrive at all!

You’re welcome, America.

And remember, that England cadet almost has a CDL. It’s just sitting there waiting for him at the other end of what would otherwise be an expensive bus ride sitting next to a garrulous salesman who spits when he talks. The CDL is only a formality, not like an intern performing heart surgery on his way home from medical school. OK, so maybe it’s a little like that. But not a lot. And what’s the big deal? It’s just a piece of paper.

OK, wiseguy, we know what you’re thinking. Isn’t the FMCSA all about verifying this and documenting that? Aren’t we the guys who calculate scores based on crossed T’s and dotted I’s? Don’t our inspectors thumb through your file drawers and scan the folders on your servers looking for instances of bad bookkeeping and sloppy paperwork? In the end, isn’t that what safety is all about? Log sheets? Vehicle inspections? Drug tests? Repair orders? Legible documents? Neat files? Records of absolutely everything? You bet your ass!

But we digress.

The thing is, the FMCSA hasn’t lost its elan, its esprit de corps, its joie de vivre, or its je ne sais quoi. We haven’t gone loosey-goosey over whether a cadet’s home state has declared him a genuine CDL trucker or not.

We’re making this exception for a great motor carrier, C.R. England, which finds itself in the untenable position of either sending the cadet home without having hired him or her (because the person does not yet have a CDL) with no assurance that the driver will remain with C.R. England after obtaining the CDL.

See what we’re getting at here? These damn cadets are escaping! A couple of days out from under the England tent, breathing fresh air, steering an England truck down a crowded interstate while the genuine trucker snores away in the sleeper and these cadets can get some funny ideas – like deciding not to work for England. We can’t have that now, can we?

The FMSCA stands by American commerce and great American corporations.