FMCSA Issues Ruling on Minimum Training Standards for Entry-Level CDL Applicants

After nearly a decade of deliberation, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Dec. 7, 2016, announced its final rule on national minimum training standards for entry-level applicants seeking a commercial driver’s license or related endorsement.

The administration had been working on the rule since 2007, though there had been efforts to establish such a rule since the 1980s. The new rule will take effect Feb.  6, 2017; the compliance date is listed as February 2020.

Congress had mandated the ruling under the MAP-21 highway bill, which was passed in 2012. The rule was drawn up with the help of a negotiated rulemaking committee comprised of 25 agency representatives and industry stakeholders, as well as recommendations from the agency’s Entry-Level Driver Training Advisory Committee. The final rule retains many of these committees’ recommendations, though not all.  

Per the notice of proposed rulemaking the FMCSA issued last spring, the committee had suggested a minimum of 30 hours behind-the-wheel training for new drivers, as well as 10 hours of training on a driving range, and unspecified time on a public road. The new rule requires applicants seeking a CDL to demonstrate proficiency in knowledge training and behind-the-wheel training on a driving range and public road, but it does not state a minimum amount of time to be spent on these training. Instead, training providers are tasked with determining that each applicant demonstrates proficiency in all the required areas.

The rule also outlines criteria for qualified training programs and states that applicants must complete training from a program that meets these criteria. Among other things, entry-level training providers must register with the FMCSA’s Training Provider Registry to obtain certification that their program meets the standards.

Individuals affected by the rule include first-time CDL applicants and current CDL holders seeking to upgrade their license. It will also apply to applicants seeking additional endorsements for authorization to transport hazardous materials or to operate a motorcoach or school bus.

The rule will be in effect in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and all U.S. territories.

Visit the Department of Transportation Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration website to read the rule in its entirety.