August 6, 2020
Thank you to all who participated in our August 4-5 survey on problems schools are currently facing. I wanted to provide some feedback for everyone and offer a snapshot of where state driver’s license agencies stand in terms of service offerings.
For reference, at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, CVTA members saw the state driver’s license agencies (SDLAs) close like dominos. At its peak, there were 27 SDLAs completely shutdown. Moreover, all states, even those that remained “open” were operating at limited capacity. As our nation began understanding more about the virus, treating those infected, and preventing the spread, we began to see SDLAs reopen, albeit on a limited basis. As more SDLAs came back on line, CVTA understood that our problems were far from over and that state DMVs would struggle to clear their backlog.
We are nearly six months into the pandemic, and though many Americans continue to face economic uncertainty, trucking is a bright spot. Freight volumes continue to increase and trucking as an industry remains an economic beacon. Trucking is often seen as a leading economic indicator of our nation’s economy. If so, this is good news for America.
Back in March, the driver shortage temporarily vanished as freight volumes plummeted. Simply put, with less freight, fewer commercial drivers were needed in the short term. It will return, however, and when it does, we will need more drivers than before. The inability for SDLAs to license new students and trainees, could severely impact the supply of drivers.
CVTA conducted a CDL school survey from August 4-5th to determine whether commercial driver training schools were still experiencing problems with securing CLP knowledge tests, CDL skills tests, or issuance the physical resulting from reduced state driver’s license agency service offerings due to COVID-19. The survey found over 1/3 of state driver’s license agencies (SDLAs) faced moderate to significant delays in conducting CLP knowledge tests, CDL skills tests, or issuance of the physical CDL. Delays in obtaining CLP appointments ranged from 2 weeks to 90 days in at least 15 states, with most averaging between 30 to 60-day delays. Other states delays have similar extensive wait times, but these delays are more regional or even local in scope.
Based on the survey response, CVTA believes the significant delays center around those states using online appointment systems (as opposed to a walk-in policy), those states who prohibit schools from third party skills testing, or those states that use third party testing but have not adopted the FMCSA’s CLP waiver, which allows third-party testers to administer the CLP knowledge test.
Another challenge is the delay between a student passing their skills test and obtaining their physical CDL, which requires the student to again make an appointment through the online appointment system.
Earlier this year CVTA estimated that because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States would produce 60% of the drivers it has in previous years. Given the continued delays in CDL licensing, we are reviewing our estimate of that goal to determine if this needs to be revised downward.