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America Outdoors Association

March 31, 2011

America Outdoors Association Bulletin

Legislation Requiring Commercial Drivers Licenses (CDL’s) for 9 to 15 Passenger Vans Introduced in the House and Senate.  Contact Congress ASAP!

Legislation to require CDL’s for 9 to 15 passenger vans is the most imminent legislative issue facing the outfitting industry.  Hearings on motor coach and related safety were held in the Senate Transportation Committee at the end of March and two bills to enhance Motor Coach and Van Safety have been introduced.  S. 453 in the Senate was introduced by Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX).  H.R. 873 in the House was introduced by Rep. Lewis (D-GA).  Eliminating the van CDL requirement is critical to the survival of many outfitters and guides. 

Mike Cottingham from Wilderness Ventures in Jackson, Wyoming had this to say.  “My 38 year old business was built around the incidental use of 15 passenger vans.  Our business relies heavily on professional wilderness guides driving groups of teenagers to remote trailheads in our national parks and forests as part of their guiding responsibility.  It would be impossible to hire enough CDL licensed individuals who are also wilderness guides.  The efforts of America Outdoors Association on behalf of the professional outfitting industry with regard to CDL requirement are essential to the survival of most outfitters. “

The data we have on the industry’s driving record from one prominent insurer shows a good safety record.  “From the period of 1-1-2006 through 12-31-2009 our office has placed $1,973,104 in premium with Progressive in Outfitters Commercial Automobile coverage.  The total claims paid equals 15.06% of the written premium, above.  During this time there is no record of a major claim involving a 9-15 passenger van.  There is no record of a fatality or serious bodily injury in this book of Progressive Insurance business.  The majority of claims are for physical damage to insured vans, repairs to the van itself.” 

Recent tragic accidents involving motor coaches have increased the momentum for rapid passage of legislation.  Based on our discussions in DC this March, we believe S. 453 will be voted on in April in the Senate. 

Act now! 

  • Contact your members of Congress today and tell them that CDL’s should not be required for 9 to 15 passenger vans used by outfitters and guides when the transportation is not for direct compensation (incidental to the recreation service).  Cite the insurance data that shows we have a good driving record.  To find the contact for your member of Congress go to http://www.congress.org   Type in your zip code and look in the left column for links to your Senators and Representatives.  Call their offices and ask to speak to the person handling Transportation issues.  
  • Provide your drivers with training and maintain documentation of that training to promote driver safety and avoid negligent entrustment claims if you have an accident.  Several resources are available.  One that is used by several AOA members is the Van Driver 2 DVD from Coaching Systems.  (800) 354-9099.  http://coachingsystems.com/product.php?productid=16153&cat=250&page= 
  • Write a letter to Congress. See model letter under Hot Issues at AmericaOutdoors.org.
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