ELDT Should Be Applied Without Sweeping Exemptions

Oct 24, 2022

The Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT) rules create nationwide minimum standards for the training of entry-level truck drivers. These standards enhance highway safety by ensuring that all entry-level drivers have demonstrated proficiency in a comprehensive training curriculum before starting their career on our nation’s roads.  

Confusion about these minimum safety standards, newly enacted in February 2022, has resulted in a misconception that these rules are overly burdensome for small businesses and will require existing trainers of entry-level drivers to significantly change their current practices. ELDT allows many existing training providers to continue current practices and includes reasonable exemptions where appropriate while setting a vital nationwide standard for highway safety. 

Many training providers, including rural and small businesses, can still train students in-house as they have done in the past. These businesses are not required to send their drivers to third-party training providers and take on expensive training costs. Instead, they can follow these step-by-step instructions to register with ELDT’s Training Provider Registry (TPR) and self-certify that their training meets ELDT’s requirements. All training providers, even those at rural and small businesses, should meet ELDT’s trainer experience requirements to ensure students are taught safe driving practices by qualified trainers. 

ELDT does not require that training take longer to complete than training provided before ELDT. Driver trainees are required to demonstrate proficiency in each element of the ELDT curriculum. This includes classroom lessons where drivers learn basic vehicle operation, safe operating practices, and how to maintain and identify malfunctions with their vehicles as well as behind-the-wheel training where drivers practice safe driving techniques. There are no required minimum instructional hours for this training. 

ELDT includes reasonable exemptions for farmers, and other agricultural businesses with drivers on our roads should meet ELDT’s safety requirements. States are allowed to exempt operators of farm vehicles, including a farmer’s family members and employees, for operation to transport agricultural products to or from a farm within 150 miles of that farm. Wider exemptions would allow for more drivers to fall through the cracks on safety training while operating alongside passenger vehicles. 

ELDT is a vital tool for enhancing highway safety as accident fatalities are increasing. Fatal crashes involving large trucks increased by 33 percent between 2011 and 2020. And research demonstrates that the top predictors for large truck crashes are nearly all grounded in driver behaviors, including failures to obey warning lights or use proper signaling and reckless driving. ELDT training is designed to address driver behaviors specifically to support safer driving practices. Sweeping exemptions from these requirements, including statewide exemptions based on old state standards, would result in more entry-level drivers beginning their careers on our roads with inadequate safety training. The consequences of inadequate training can be deadly. 

These standards were developed based on the recommendations of 26 stakeholder organizations, including CVTA as well as truck driver organizations, motor carriers, and law enforcement. The standards reflect the expertise of these stakeholders, many of which are small businesses that operate in rural communities. FMCSA should continue uniform application of ELDT to protect safety on our roads.