This week, the FMCSA released its long-awaited proposal that outlines new minimum training requirements for entry-level drivers. This proposal outlines a set of rules that if enacted into law, would require all entry-level drivers to complete a federally-mandated training program prior to receiving a Commercial Driver’s License. This curriculum would include both a combination of theoretical and behind-the-wheel training.
Please note, that while this proposal could mean big changes for driver training programs, it would not become effective until three years after it is enacted into law. This gives you time to understand and implement the necessary changes before it is legally required.
What is an Entry Level Driver?
According to the proposal, the definition of an Entry Level Driver could change quite a bit. Currently, an entry-level driver is defined as a CDL driver with less than one year of experience operating a Commercial Motor Vehicle in interstate commerce. Moving forward, it could include anyone who is applying for a CDL for the first time, as well as:
- A driver who is upgrading their CDL
- A driver who is adding a hazmat, passenger or bus endorsement to their license
Individuals who are reinstating a CDL after revocation or suspension will not have to retake the entire training curriculum. Instead, they will be required to complete a “refresher” training program.
What are the Proposed Training Requirements for Entry Level Drivers?
Current FMCSA regulations require all new drivers to obtain CDL training and pass a skills test prior to operating a commercial motor vehicle. In addition, they must obtain specific training in driver qualifications, hours of service, driver wellness and whistleblower protection.
The proposed curriculum would revise these current training requirements and would include two core segments:
- Theoretical Training
This segment has no proposed length of time and may be taught in a classroom or online. Theoretical training components may include topics such as the basic operation of a vehicle and vehicle instruments, vehicle inspections, how to operate under specific road/traffic conditions, managing driver fatigue and vehicle maintenance.
After completing this part of the training program, trainees must get a satisfactory score on a written test prior to receiving a CDL.
- Behind the Wheel (BTW) Training
For behind the wheel training, the proposal states that all Class A trainees receive at least 30 hours of behind the wheel training, with at least 10 of those hours on a driving range and at least 10 hours on a public road.
All Class B trainees must complete at least 15 hours of behind the wheel training, with at least 7 of those hours on a public road.
Independent of these core requirements, the proposal gives training providers the flexibility to increase the required driving time or create individualized programs that ensure students receive the training needed to demonstrate proficiency in operating a commercial motor vehicle. A training certificate may not be issued until trainees can demonstrate this proficiency.
After a trainee has successfully completed their training, the training provider/instructor is required to upload the trainee’s certificate to the Training Provider Registry, which will include the following information:
- Driver Name
- CDL or Permit Number and State
- Vehicle Class/Endorsement
- TPR Number
- Date Training was Completed
Are there any exemptions to these requirements?
All current CDL holders will be grandfathered in and will not be affected by this proposal.
Just as military drivers, farmers, and firefighters are exempt from current CDL regulations, they are also exempt from the ELDT proposal.
Requirements for Training Providers
Training providers must be either an experienced driver or theory instructor. They cannot have had any type of CDL disqualifications during the two years prior to becoming an instructor. They will also have to register with the FMCSA’s Training Provider Registry.
We’ll continue to keep you updated on this proposal. In the meantime, you can view the complete proposal and make comments here:
Questions or concerns? Leave them in the comments section below!