The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has proposed changes to enhance the flexibility and efficiency of the CDL program by removing certain regulatory hurdles to allow applicants to obtain a CDL in less time than it currently takes without compromising safety. FMCSA believes the proposed changes will further address CMV driver shortages, enhance supply chain stability, and provide appropriate regulatory relief without impacting safety.
Proposed changes include:
• Out-of-State Applicants: The proposed rule suggests allowing states discretion to offer skills testing to out-of-state applicants, irrespective of the state where training was obtained. This may enable applicants to obtain a CDL sooner by scheduling the skills test in a state with shorter waiting times.
• CLP Holders Who Have Passed the CDL Skills Test: Pursuant to § 383.25(a)(1), CLP holders currently may operate a CMV on public roads and highways only for the purpose of BTW training, provided a CDL holder is physically present in the front seat and observes the CLP holder directly. The new rule proposes an exception that allows CLP holders who have passed the CDL skills test to operate a CMV for any reason, as long as a CDL holder is physically present, the CLP driver has passed the CDL skills test, and the driver possesses documentary evidence from the testing state.
• Skills Test Waiting Period to be Removed: The waiting period of 14 days before CLP holders can take the CDL skills test is proposed to be eliminated. This rule, initially in place to ensure CLP holders undergo behind-the-wheel (BTW) training before the test, is considered unnecessary now that CLP holders must complete Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT) before the skills test.
• Third-Party Knowledge Testers and Examiners: States may now use third-party knowledge examiners for CDL testing, but they must adhere to specific training, certification, and oversight requirements outlined in the regulation. Additionally, states need to ensure that third-party knowledge testers administer tests electronically and follow auditing and monitoring guidelines similar to those for skills testers and examiners.
TPGA will continue to monitor the progress of this proposal and report any finalization.