[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 194 (Friday, October 5, 2012)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 60956-60959]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-24640]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

23 CFR Part 1200

[Docket No. NHTSA-2012-0137]
RIN 2127-AL29


State Graduated Driver Licensing Incentive Grant

AGENCY: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 
Department of Transportation (DOT).

ACTION: Notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM).

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SUMMARY: This NPRM seeks public comment on the minimum qualification 
criteria for the State Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) Incentive Grant 
program authorized under the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st 
Century Act (MAP-21). MAP-21 authorizes grants for States that 
implement multi-stage licensing systems that require novice drivers 
younger than 21 years of age to comply with the requirements and 
process set forth below before receiving an unrestricted driver's 
license. NHTSA will consider comments in developing a rule implementing 
the GDL requirements under MAP-21.

DATES: Written comments may be submitted to NHTSA and must be received 
on or before October 25, 2012.

ADDRESSES: Written comments to NHTSA may be submitted using any one of 
the following methods:
     Mail: Send comments to: Docket Management Facility, M-30, 
U.S. Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., West 
Building, Room W12-140, Washington, DC 20590.
     Fax: Written comments may be faxed to (202) 493-2251.
     Internet: To submit comments electronically, go to the US 
Government regulations Web site at http://www.regulations.gov. Follow 
the online instructions for submitting comments.
     Hand Delivery: If you plan to submit written comments by 
hand or courier, please do so at 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., West 
Building, Ground Floor, Room W12-140, Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. 
and 5 p.m., Eastern Time, Monday through Friday, except Federal 
holidays.
    Whichever way you submit your comments, please remember to identify 
the docket number of this document within your correspondence. The 
docket may be accessed via telephone at (202) 366-9324.
    Instructions: For detailed instructions on submitting comments and 
additional information on the rulemaking process, see the ``Public 
Participation'' heading in the ``Supplementary Information'' section of 
this document. Note that all comments received will be posted without 
change to http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal 
information provided.
    Privacy Act: Please see the Privacy Act heading under Rulemaking 
Analyses and Notices.
    Docket: All documents in the dockets are listed in the http://www.regulations.gov index. Publicly available docket materials are 
available either electronically in www.regulations.gov or in hard copy 
at the Docket Management Facility, M-30, U.S. Department of 
Transportation, West Building, Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New 
Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC. The Docket Management Facility is 
open between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Eastern Time, Monday through Friday, 
except Federal holidays.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
    For Program Issues: Dr. Mary D. Gunnels, Associate Administrator, 
Regional Operations and Program Delivery, National Highway Traffic 
Safety Administration, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., NTI-200, Washington, 
DC 20590. Telephone: (202) 366-2121. Email: Maggi.Gunnels@dot.gov.
    For Legal Issues: Mr. Russell Krupen, Attorney-Advisor, Office of 
the Chief Counsel, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 1200 
New Jersey Avenue SE., NCC-113, Washington, DC 20590. Telephone: (202) 
366-1834. Email: Russell.Krupen@dot.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Background

    On July 6, 2012, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century 
Act (MAP-21) was enacted into law (Pub. L. 112-141). Section 31105 of 
MAP-21 amended 23 U.S.C. 405 to consolidate several grant programs to 
address national priorities for reducing highway deaths and injuries. 
MAP-21 also created new grant programs under Section 405, including one 
for states that adopt and implement graduated driver's licensing (GDL) 
laws.
    All 50 states have enacted GDL laws as a means of providing a safe 
transition for novice drivers to the driving task. A GDL system 
generally consists of a multi-staged process for issuing driver's 
licenses to young, novice drivers. During the first stage, the 
applicant generally is issued a learner's permit and may operate a 
motor vehicle only while under the supervision of a licensed driver 
over the age of 21. During the second stage, the applicant is issued an 
intermediate (also called a provisional or restricted) license and may 
operate a motor vehicle without a supervising adult, but only under 
certain conditions. Additional restrictions also generally apply during 
these first two stages. Once drivers meet all of the conditions and 
restrictions of the first two stages, they can then earn an 
unrestricted driver's license. Some of the significant benefits of GDL 
systems are that young drivers are able to gain valuable driving 
experience under controlled circumstances, and they must demonstrate 
responsible driving behavior and proficiency to move through each level 
of the system before graduating to the next.
    States have various approaches to the requirements and restrictions 
associated with each GDL stage. Although evaluations clearly show the 
benefits of adopting GDL laws, these benefits vary greatly across 
states depending upon the approaches taken. A NHTSA-supported study by 
Johns Hopkins University, released in June 2006, found that States that 
have comprehensive GDL programs had a 20-percent reduction in fatal 
crashes involving 16-year-old drivers. A recent study by the Insurance 
Institute for Highway Safety ranked States by the

[[Page 60957]]

strength of their GDL laws and found that strong GDL programs were 
associated with 30 percent lower fatal crash rates among 15-17 year-
olds compared to weak licensing programs. NHTSA publishes research and 
information on teen driver safety, including the benefits of GDL 
systems, on its Web site at http://www.nhtsa.gov/Driving+Safety/Driver+Education.
    Under a previous authorization, enacted in 1998, Congress expanded 
the criteria that States could use to satisfy the requirements for an 
alcohol-impaired driving prevention program incentive grant to include 
the adoption of a GDL system. See Public Law 105-178, Sec. 2004 (The 
Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century [TEA-21]) (formerly 
codified at 23 U.S.C. 410). The agency issued an interim final rule 
implementing these provisions on December 29, 1998, 63 FR 71688, and a 
final rule on July 28, 2000, 65 FR 46344. In 2005, Section 2007 of the 
Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A 
Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) (Pub. L. 109-59) eliminated the GDL 
system criterion, and MAP-21 repealed the Section 410 program as it 
consolidated the various grants into the Section 405 program.
    MAP-21 reintroduces an incentive for States to implement GDL 
systems by authorizing a grant program under the amended Section 405 
program. The statute sets forth minimum qualification criteria, 
permitted exceptions, grant allocation requirements, and limitations on 
the use of grant funds that are awarded. The fifty States, the District 
of Columbia, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the 
Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands are each 
eligible to apply for a GDL grant. In setting forth the minimum 
qualification criteria for the GDL grant, MAP-21 is very prescriptive; 
few, if any, potential applicants currently meet all of the minimum 
qualification criteria prescribed by MAP-21. This NPRM describes the 
basic structure of the MAP-21 GDL Incentive Grant and seeks public 
comment to assist the agency in promulgating a rule implementing those 
minimum qualification criteria.

II. Minimum Qualification Criteria

    MAP-21 specifies a ``2-stage licensing process'' for a qualifying 
GDL program. Specifically, in order to receive an incentive grant, a 
State's driver's license law must require novice drivers younger than 
21 years of age to comply with a ``learner's permit stage'' and an 
``intermediate stage'' before receiving an unrestricted driver's 
license.
    MAP-21 requires that the State GDL system begin with a learner's 
permit stage that is at least six months in duration and remains in 
effect until the driver reaches 16 years of age and enters the 
intermediate stage or reaches 18 years of age. The learner's permit 
stage must prohibit the driver from using a cellular telephone or any 
communications device in a non-emergency situation.
    Under MAP-21, the State GDL system must include an intermediate 
stage that commences immediately after the expiration of the learner's 
permit stage, is at least six months in duration, and remains in effect 
until the driver reaches 18 years of age. The intermediate stage must 
restrict driving at night and prohibit the driver from operating a 
motor vehicle with more than 1 non-familial passenger younger than 21 
years of age unless a licensed driver who is at least 21 years of age 
is in the motor vehicle. Finally, as with the learner's permit stage, 
the intermediate stage must prohibit the driver from using a cellular 
telephone or any communications device in a non-emergency situation.
    MAP-21 allows the agency to prescribe additional requirements 
beyond those described above for GDL systems. In allowing this 
discretion, the statute identifies the following criteria for 
consideration: During the learner's permit stage, requiring (1) at 
least 40 hours of behind-the-wheel training with a licensed driver who 
is at least 21 years of age, (2) a driver training course, and (3) the 
driver to be accompanied and supervised by a licensed driver who is at 
least 21 years of age at all times while such driver is operating a 
motor vehicle; During the learner's permit and intermediate stages, in 
addition to any other penalties imposed by State law, an automatic 
delay in the grant of an unrestricted driver's license for any 
individual who, during either of those stages, is convicted of a 
driving-related offense, including driving while intoxicated, 
misrepresentation of his or her true age, reckless driving, driving 
without wearing a seat belt, speeding, and any other driving-related 
offense as determined by the Agency.
    MAP-21 requires NHTSA to promulgate regulations necessary to 
implement the minimum qualification criteria for the GDL program in 
accordance with the notice and comment provisions under 5 U.S.C. 553. 
Accordingly, this notice seeks public comment on the minimum 
qualification criteria set forth above. For example, should the agency 
adopt all or only some of the additional criteria identified in MAP-21? 
Are there any further criteria that should be adopted? Commenters are 
directed to the MAP-21 amendments to 23 U.S.C. 405 (specifically, new 
section 405(g)(2)), set forth in section 31105 of MAP-21, for the full 
text of these qualification criteria. NHTSA will consider all timely 
comments in developing a rule implementing the GDL requirements under 
MAP-21.

III. Public Participation

    MAP-21 requires NHTSA to implement regulations creating a single 
application process for both the Section 405 grant applications and 
applications for Highway Safety Grants under 23 U.S.C. 402, to be 
included in the State Highway Safety Plan that is used currently by the 
States to apply for the Section 402 grants, and further establishes a 
single deadline for such applications to enable the award of grants 
early in the fiscal year (FY). NHTSA intends to issue regulations as 
expeditiously as possible to provide sufficient lead time for States to 
develop and submit applications and receive FY 2013 grant funds as 
early as practicable in that fiscal year, as well as provide lead time 
for FY 2014 grant applications, which are due on July 1, 2013, as 
specified by MAP-21. Because of these deadlines, NHTSA is operating 
under an aggressive schedule to issue the new regulations required by 
MAP-21.
    NHTSA plans to consider all public comments on the GDL criteria 
timely received under this notice in the course of implementing the GDL 
requirements under MAP-21. The agency plans to combine, in one rule, 
the GDL requirements that are the subject of today's notice with the 
MAP-21 requirements for the Section 402 program grants and the other 
Section 405 program grants. In that rule, NHTSA will also address the 
application process, qualification criteria, and use of grant funds by 
the States, as well as any other relevant requirements and information 
for the implementation of the new grant programs. In order to ensure 
that NHTSA has adequate time to take into account all comments 
submitted in response to this NPRM and to issue a rule that provides 
the States sufficient lead time to prepare applications for all grants 
under MAP-21, NHTSA has limited the comment period for today's notice 
to 20 days. (See DATES section.)

A. How do I prepare and submit comments?

    Your comments must be written and in English. To ensure that your 
comments are correctly filed in the

[[Page 60958]]

Docket, please include the docket number of this document in your 
comments. Your comments must not be more than 15 pages long. (See 49 
CFR Sec.  553.21.) We established this limit to encourage you to write 
your primary comments in a concise fashion. However, you may attach 
necessary additional documents to your primary comments. There is no 
limit on the length of the attachments.
    Please submit your comments, including the attachments, to Docket 
Management by any of the methods given above under ADDRESSES.
    If you are submitting comments electronically as a PDF (Adobe) 
file, we ask that the documents submitted be scanned using Optical 
Character Recognition (OCR) process, thus allowing the agency to search 
and copy certain portions of your submissions. Optical character 
recognition (OCR) is the process of converting an image of text, such 
as a scanned paper document or electronic fax file, into computer-
editable text.

B. How can I be sure my comments were received?

    If you submit your comments by mail and wish Docket Management to 
notify you upon its receipt of your comments, enclose a self-addressed, 
stamped postcard in the envelope containing your comments. Upon 
receiving your comments, Docket Management will return the postcard by 
mail.

C. Will the agency consider late comments?

    We will consider all comments that Docket Management receives 
before the close of business on the comment closing date indicated 
above under DATES. To the extent possible, we will also consider 
comments that Docket Management receives after that date. If a comment 
is received too late for us to consider in developing a final rule 
(assuming that one is issued), we will consider that comment as an 
informal suggestion for future rulemaking action.

D. How can I read the comments submitted by other people?

    You may read the materials placed in the docket for this document 
(e.g., the comments submitted in response to this document by other 
interested persons) at any time by going to http://www.regulations.gov. 
Follow the online instructions for accessing the dockets. You may also 
read the materials at the Docket Management Facility by going to the 
street address given above under ADDRESSES. The Docket Management 
Facility is open between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through 
Friday, except Federal holidays. Some people may submit late comments. 
Accordingly, we recommend that you periodically check the docket for 
new material.

IV. Statutory Basis for This Action

    The agency's proposal would implement the State GDL Incentive Grant 
program created by section 31105 of the Moving Ahead for Progress in 
the 21st Century Act (Pub. L. 112-141), which requires the Department 
of Transportation to issue implementing regulations for national 
priority safety programs, including the State GDL Incentive Grant 
program.

V. Regulatory Analyses and Notices

A. Executive Order (E.O.) 12866 (Regulatory Planning and Review), E.O. 
13563, and DOT Regulatory Policies and Procedures

    The agency has considered the impact of this rulemaking action 
under E.O. 12866, E.O. 13563, and the Department of Transportation's 
regulatory policies and procedures. This rulemaking was not reviewed by 
the Office of Management and Budget under E.O. 12866, ``Regulatory 
Planning and Review.'' The rulemaking action has also been determined 
to be not significant under the Department's regulatory policies and 
procedures. (44 FR 11034; February 26, 1979).
    Today's NPRM only seeks public comment on the minimum qualification 
criteria for the State Graduated Driver Licensing Incentive Grant 
program authorized under MAP-21. NHTSA will consider any comments it 
receives as it develops a rule that combines the GDL requirements that 
are the subject of today's notice with the MAP-21 requirements for the 
Section 402 and Section 405 grant programs. The minimum qualification 
criteria addressed in this rule affect only the State GDL Incentive 
Grant program, and the funds to be distributed under that program total 
no more than $13.25 million in fiscal year 2013 and $13.6 million in 
fiscal year 2014.
    The agency concludes that the impacts of this proposed action are 
so minimal that preparation of a full regulatory evaluation is not 
required. However, the agency does expect safety benefits resulting 
from the implementation of conforming GDL systems by States.

B. Regulatory Flexibility Act

    The Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) of 1980 (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.) 
requires agencies to evaluate the potential effects of their proposed 
and final rules on small businesses, small organizations, and small 
governmental jurisdictions. Section 605 of the RFA allows an agency to 
certify a rule, in lieu of preparing an analysis, if the proposed 
rulemaking is not expected to have a significant economic impact on a 
substantial number of small entities. The Small Business Regulatory 
Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA) amended the RFA to require Federal 
agencies to provide a statement of the factual basis for certifying 
that an action would not have a significant economic impact on a 
substantial number of small entities.
    This NPRM is for a rulemaking that will implement a new grant 
program enacted by Congress in MAP-21. Under this new Federal program, 
States will receive grant funds if they adopt compliant GDL systems. 
This program will affect only State governments, which are not 
considered to be small entities as that term is defined by the RFA. 
Therefore, I certify that this action will not have a significant 
impact on a substantial number of small entities and find that the 
preparation of a Regulatory Flexibility Analysis is unnecessary.

C. Executive Order 13132 (Federalism)

    Executive Order 13132 on ``Federalism'' requires NHTSA to develop 
an accountable process to ensure ``meaningful and timely input by State 
and local officials in the development of regulatory policies that have 
federalism implications.'' 64 FR 43255 (August 10, 1999). ``Policies 
that have federalism implications'' are defined in the Executive Order 
to include regulations that have ``substantial direct effects on the 
States, on the relationship between the national government and the 
States, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the 
various levels of government.'' Under Executive Order 13132, an agency 
may not issue a regulation with Federalism implications that imposes 
substantial direct compliance costs and that is not required by statute 
unless the Federal government provides the funds necessary to pay the 
direct compliance costs incurred by State and local governments or the 
agency consults with State and local governments in the process of 
developing the proposed regulation. An agency also may not issue a 
regulation with Federalism implications that preempts a State law 
without consulting with State and local officials.
    The agency has analyzed this rulemaking action in accordance with 
the principles and criteria set forth in Executive Order 13132, and has

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determined that this proposed rule would not have sufficient Federalism 
implications as defined in the order to warrant formal consultation 
with State and local officials or the preparation of a federalism 
summary impact statement. However, NHTSA continues to engage with state 
representatives regarding general implementation of MAP-21, including 
this grant program, and expects to continue these informal dialogues in 
connection with the forthcoming consolidated grant regulations mandated 
by MAP-21.

D. Executive Order 12988 (Civil Justice Reform)

    Pursuant to Executive Order 12988 (61 FR 4729 (February 7, 1996)), 
``Civil Justice Reform,'' the agency has considered whether this 
proposed rule would have any retroactive effect. I conclude that it 
would not have any retroactive or preemptive effect, and judicial 
review of it may be obtained pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 702. That section 
does not require that a petition for reconsideration be filed prior to 
seeking judicial review. This action meets applicable standards in 
sections 3(a) and 3(b)(2) of Executive Order 12988, Civil Justice 
Reform, to minimize litigation, eliminate ambiguity, and reduce burden.

E. Paperwork Reduction Act

    Under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, as implemented by the 
Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in 5 CFR part 1320, a person is 
not required to respond to a collection of information by a Federal 
agency unless the collection displays a valid OMB control number. This 
action does not contain a collection of information requirement for 
purposes of the Paperwork Reduction Act. Although MAP-21 requires the 
submission of applications for the State GDL Incentive Grant, the 
application procedures will be addressed in a subsequent and separate 
rulemaking action. This NPRM only solicits public comment on minimum 
grant qualification criteria.

F. Unfunded Mandates Reform Act

    The Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (Pub. L. 104-4) requires 
agencies to prepare a written assessment of the costs, benefits, and 
other effects of proposed or final rules that include a Federal mandate 
likely to result in expenditures by State, local or tribal governments, 
in the aggregate, or by the private sector, of more than $100 million 
annually (adjusted annually for inflation with base year of 1995). This 
proposal would not meet the definition of a Federal mandate because the 
resulting annual State expenditures would not exceed the minimum 
threshold. The program is voluntary and States that choose to apply and 
qualify would receive grant funds.

G. National Environmental Policy Act

    NHTSA has considered the impacts of this rulemaking action for the 
purposes of the National Environmental Policy Act. The agency has 
determined that this proposal would not have a significant impact on 
the quality of the human environment.

H. Executive Order 13175 (Consultation and Coordination With Indian 
Tribes)

    The agency has analyzed this proposal under Executive Order 13175, 
and has determined that the proposed action would not have a 
substantial direct effect on one or more Indian tribes, would not 
impose substantial direct compliance costs on Indian tribal 
governments, and would not preempt tribal law. Therefore, a tribal 
summary impact statement is not required.

I. Regulatory Identifier Number (RIN)

    The Department of Transportation assigns a regulation identifier 
number (RIN) to each regulatory action listed in the Unified Agenda of 
Federal Regulations. The Regulatory Information Service Center 
publishes the Unified Agenda in or about April and October of each 
year. You may use the RIN contained in the heading at the beginning of 
this document to find this action in the Unified Agenda.

J. Privacy Act

    Please note that anyone is able to search the electronic form of 
all comments received into any of our dockets by the name of the 
individual submitting the comment (or signing the comment, if submitted 
on behalf of an association, business, labor union, etc.). You may 
review DOT's complete Privacy Act Statement in the Federal Register 
published on April 11, 2000 (65 FR 19477) or you may visit http://dms.dot.gov.

    Authority:  Pub. L. 112-141, Section 31105; 23 U.S.C. 405(g) (as 
set forth in MAP-21); delegation of authority at 49 CFR Sec. Sec.  
1.94 and 1.95.

    Issued On: October 1, 2012.
Ronald Medford,
Deputy Administrator, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
[FR Doc. 2012-24640 Filed 10-4-12; 8:45 am]
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