S.1813, which includes funding for highways and other infrastructure projects, includes language which requires the Secretary of Transportation to submit a report to the House of Representatives on the safety benefits of a CDL requirement for interstate drivers of 9 to 15 passenger vans. The language specifically asks for the report to consider the benefits of limiting the CDL requirement to van drivers for direct compensation. AOA has asked Congress to exempt vans drivers from the CDL requirement when the compensation for transportation is indirect, ie, part of a recreation service. Whether shuttle services are direct or indirect compensation will have to be answered. If the shuttle service is provided with a boat rental, then the transportation may be considered indirect. H.R. 7, the House highway bill, does not appear to contain a similar provision at this point.
This language will not authorize a CDL requirement, but initiate a study. Drug testing and driver event monitors are also requirements included in the legislation. Many states, such as Utah, adopt federal standards so while the study will only consider interstate commerce, a federal requirement for van driver CDL's would probably be adopted by many states.
Ironically, the most recent Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration study (2009) on the safety of 9 to 15 passenger vans found declining fatalities from 127 in 2003 to 69 in 2007. Instead of using this trend, the report cites a jump of 11 deaths from 2006 to 2007 as a trend. Among fatal accidents, 80% of the victims were not wearing seat belts. Manufacturers are now using advanced air bags and electronic stability control to improve van safety.
Here is the excerpt from the language in S. 1813.
SEC. 32709. REPORT ON DRIVER’S LICENSE REQUIREMENTS FOR 9- TO 15-PASSENGER VANS.
(a) IN GENERAL.—Not later than 18 months after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall submit a report to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate and the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure of the House of Representatives that examines requiring all or certain classes of drivers operating a vehicle, which is designed or used to transport not fewer than 9 and not more than 15 passengers (including a driver) in interstate commerce, to have a commercial driver’s license passenger-carrying endorsement and be tested in accordance with a drug and alcohol testing program under part 40 of title 49, Code 9 of Federal Regulations.
(b) CONSIDERATIONS.—In developing the report under subsection (a), the Secretary shall consider—
(1) the safety benefits of the requirement described in subsection (a);
(2) the scope of the population that would be impacted by such requirement;
(3) the cost to the Federal Government and State governments to meet such requirement; and
(4) the impact on safety benefits and cost from limiting the application of such requirement to certain drivers of such vehicles, such as drivers who are compensated for driving.
van, CDL, van safety