Entry-Level Commercial Driver Training - The Law is Right Around the Corner

Box truck driving through wooded roads

If your company’s fleet includes a school bus, dump truck, or any other type of commercial vehicle, February 7, 2022, should be an important date for you. On that Monday, the final rule (49 CFR part 383) issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) concerning Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT) goes into effect. This rule will affect anyone seeking to obtain a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), and certain endorsements, for the first time. No longer will someone be able to get a permit on a walk-in basis, then borrow a truck a short time later for a road test and come home with a CDL.

Currently, commercial licensing standards are inconsistent across the 50 states. It is believed that federal highway safety can be improved by establishing a nationwide minimum skill level and the training needed to obtain a CDL. The intent of this rule is to accomplish that. Though the training may seem like yet another hoop to jump through, it might be the very same hoop that your insurance carrier has been pushing for.

After February 7, a driver candidate will have to attend training by a provider listed in the federal Training Provider Registry (TPR). Driving schools, fleets, and even individuals have the ability to be accepted and listed on the registry as long as they meet the requirements for curriculum, facility, instructors, and vehicles. It does not appear that the TPR will be accessible to the public until the rule goes into effect; training facilities that are currently accepted by the industry are likely to be on the register. Those in this category in Maine can be found here and this CDL Training Today link will provide a search feature for CDL schools around the country.

Driver candidates subject to the new training requirements are those seeking a class “A” or “B” license for the first time, those moving up to an “A” from a “B” and those seeking a passenger “P,” school bus “S,” or Haz-Mat (H) endorsement for the first time. If an individual has held any of these licenses and/or endorsements in the past and let them lapse, they will not be subject to the new training requirements, and only will be subject to the respective written and skills tests, if applicable.

The above also applies to holders of Commercial Learner’s Permits (CLP). Anyone holding a valid CLP on February 7, 2022, will not need to meet the new training requirements with respect to what license/endorsement(s) that permit is for. If an individual’s CLP expires after February 7, and before they successfully obtain a license/endorsement, that individual will be subject to the new training requirements.

There is a provision in this legislation that allows individual states to provide restricted CDL’s in certain situations. Some groups eligible for this may be farmers, firefighters, emergency response vehicle drivers, and drivers removing snow and ice. See 49 CFR 383.3(d)(3) for details. These licenses will only be valid for use in the state of issue and so far, Alaska is the only state known to have acted on this provision.

If you have any employees currently on the fence about getting a CDL, it would be advisable to digest the above information and then make a decision that best fits your company’s needs. For additional information related to commercial vehicles, fleet plans, or safe driving practices MEMIC policyholders can access our Safety Director resources at MEMIC.com.