HomeOperationsFMCSA Proposal Seeks to Quicken CDL Process

FMCSA Proposal Seeks to Quicken CDL Process

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) published a notice of proposed rulemaking last week to provide flexibility to the process of certifying commercial drivers, especially those that live in different states from where they will be working.

The proposed rule would amend the commercial driver’s license (CDL) regulations to remove the current requirement that commercial learners permit (CLP) holders must train in the same state where they take the CDL skills test. FMCSA said its entry-level driver training regulation in effect for the past two years already assures that out-of-state applicants have completed the required minimum training.

This, according to FMCSA’s proposal dated Feb. 2, “may allow applicants to obtain a CDL sooner by scheduling the skills test in a State with shorter waiting times. Because all States administering the CDL skills test must follow the test standards and requirements set forth in 49 CFR part 383, subparts G and H, the proposal would not adversely impact safety.”

FMCSA noted that CLP holders would still be subject to the same oversight and supervision as CDL holders, and would have to comply with all applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations. A new rule would not change the requirements for obtaining a CLP or a CDL, such as passing knowledge and skills tests, meeting medical and fitness standards, and complying with driver qualification rules. It would also not affect the current prohibition of CLP holders in transporting passengers or hazardous materials.

A new exception would allow CLP holders who have passed the CDL skills test to drive commercial vehicles for reasons other than behind-the-wheel training and testing. A CDL holder would still need to physically accompany the CLP holder in the vehicle, and the CLP holder would need to have proper documentation proving they passed the CDL skills test.

Meanwhile, CDL holders would no longer need a P endorsement when the CMV is not transporting passengers, such as when delivering newly purchased buses to school districts or bus companies, otherwise known as drive-away service.

The proposal also seeks to remove a current requirement for CLP holders to wait 14 days before taking their CDL skills test.

“The restriction is no longer necessary, however, because CLP holders must now complete ELDT (theory training and BTW range and road training) before taking the skills test for a Class A or Class B CDL or the P or school bus (S) endorsement, in accordance with Sec. 383.73(b)(11) and (e)(9),” FMCSA writes.

FMCSA also noted that the current regulations limit the ability of CLP holders to gain practical experience and exposure to different driving situations and environments, which may hinder their preparation for the CDL skills test and their subsequent performance as CMV drivers.

The proposed rulemaking would also increase the responsibility and accountability of CLP holders, FMCSA says, as they would have to ensure that they are accompanied by a qualified CDL holder who can monitor and assist them in case of emergency or difficulty, and who can communicate with them by radio, phone, or other means.

States would also need to subject third-party knowledge examiners to similar auditing and monitoring requirements as third-party skills testers. Third party knowledge examiners would also be required to administer tests electronically.

Comments may be filed online.

Related: FMCSA Passes Two Year ‘Under-the-Hood’ CDL Skills Test Exemption, Opposition Remains
Related: Pending FMCSA Notices of Proposed Rulemaking Include Driver Fitness, Speed Limiters
Related: FMCSA Makes Permanent Its Regulatory Exemption For Windshield-Mounted Safety System Cameras

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