A plan is in the works to expand the availability of road tests for commercial driver license applicants and allow third-party examiners to administer them, according to a plan announced by Gov. Kathy Hochul.
The goal is to reduce the time it takes to get qualified CDL drivers on the road by creating more testing locations statewide and expanding capacity at existing state-run sites.
The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles scheduled a virtual public hearing on Jan. 26 to provide an overview of the proposal that would roll out in phases, beginning with allowing state agencies and other authorities with large fleets to begin conducting CDL road tests. The second phase would allow private entities to conduct their own road tests.
The proposal also calls for DMV to establish a “rigorous” monitoring system to ensure qualified CDL trainers safely administer the road tests in compliance with state and federal regulations.
The DMV will also hear and review comments on the plan during the Jan. 26 meeting and stated it will use the feedback to evaluate and develop an implementation plan.
The New York Association for Pupil Transportation praised the “decisive action” on Wednesday to alleviate the school bus driver shortage, according to Executive Director David Christopher. He noted that state Sen. Mike Martucci, the former owner of Quality Bus and a past president of the New York Association of School Bus Contractors, worked with Hochul and her office on the issue.
“[Hochul and Martucci] continued to be tremendous advocates for New York’s school districts and school transportation provider, and we thank them both for their tireless commitment to ensuring that the 2.3 million children who ride a yellow bus to and from school each day get there safely,” Christopher added in a statement.
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This is the latest move by New York to address the driver shortage. In September, Hochul ordered the DMV to remove the 14-day waiting period between CDL permit and fast-tracked permits for school district staff with existing CDLs to temporarily drive vans and buses. Additionally, the state increased the capacity to administer road tests while local DMV offices increased testing capacity for written exams.
New CDL driver testing sites were also opened in partnership with the State University of New York, the Thruway Authority, New York Racing Association, and the Office of General Services to use large lots at various sites for road tests.