- The FMCSA's new standards for driver training for heavy commercial trucks will take effect Monday, enacting a delayed regulation states had requested more time to implement. The Entry-Level Driver Training rule covers anyone seeking a Class A or B CDL. Any person who does not receive training from an authorized training provider will not be allowed to sit for the CDL skills exam, according to the Commercial Vehicle Training Association.
- Under the new regulations, CDL schools, individuals, employers or unions who provide training will have to register with the FMCSA at the agency's Training Provider Registry. The CDL schools will also have to agree to a training course in class and on the road that meets federal criteria.
- The ELDT will standardize what is required in public and private CDL schools across the 50 states. The CVTA hopes the standards improve fleet safety records.
Fleets should benefit from the higher standards because the main FMCSA goals were to standardize training across the nation, lower fatalities and eliminate "CDL mills," which poorly prepared drivers with only a few days of training, according to Bailey Wood, CEO of CVTA.
The new rule means some CDL schools, but not all, will have to upgrade their curriculum. Wood said some states already have standards superior to what FMCSA is mandating, and some states don't.
States that are likely to have to upgrade their CDL-training standards include Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee, according to the Truck Driver Institute, a CDL school that lists which states are easiest for licensing.
Generally, states did not oppose the new training regulations, which the FMCSA came up with in 2016. But some states asked the agency to delay implementation, first scheduled for Feb. 7, 2020.
Wood said some states wanted more time to prepare their CDL branches, and it was given. Still, the CVTA had a teleconference on Tuesday with dozens of members, including schools and fleets who run such schools, who still needed information on implementation.
Registration is part of the new ELDT regulations. The FMCSA will also try to assure standards are being taught in the classroom, or "theory" side, and during road instruction. About 80% of the requirements have to do with in-class instruction, Wood said.
For "wheel time," or time being instructed on the road, Wood said instructors will have to teach "proficiency" in very specific skills, such as night-time driving, parking and space management. Proficiency is left undefined in the rule, Wood said.
Ultimately, the common goal is to lower fatalities involving heavy trucks, Wood said, and the FMCSA standards should help do that.
"We're going to have better-trained drivers on the road," said Wood. "Hopefully, we're going to have fewer medium-duty and heavy-duty truck fatalities."