Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) Testing Delays


To obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL), a student driver must follow a two-step process similar to that of someone seeking a traditional driver’s license. First, the driver must pass a written knowledge test to obtain his or her Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP). The CLP holder must then wait a minimum of 14 days to take the behind-the-wheel CDL skills test.

After successfully passing the skills exam and obtaining a CDL, the new driver is ready to begin their new career. Upon satisfying all requirements, new CDL drivers have little, if any trouble, getting placed in a well-paying job operating a truck or bus. The truck industry in particular is experiencing a driver shortage that was expected to surpass 50,000 drivers by the end of 2018.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) sets minimum CDL testing standards for all states. While all states must meet or exceed these minimum testing standards in terms of content, states are currently free to determine the entity that administers or conducts the CDL skills exam within their borders. States can either use state employees, such as examiners within its Department of Motor Vehicles (or equivalent agency), and/or delegate the testing function, in part or whole, to a state-certified third party, including commercial driving schools, trucking companies, municipalities, or independent test centers.

This practice of allowing a non-state entities to conduct skills testing is referred to as “third party testing.” Forty states have adopted some form of third-party testing to ensure that there are enough personnel, testing sites and resources to test students expeditiously. Though states are not required to test students within a certain amount of time, delays in offering a skills test within a timely manner can create substantial hardships to students, motor carriers, and schools.

CVTA’s Position

In 2015, the General Accounting Office (GAO) found that 15 states have CDL skills testing delays and backlogs that left students waiting 14 days or more to test for their CDL. Students in eight of these states wait more than 21 days to take their initial CDL test. Most importantly, because 20-50% of students fail their initial CDL skills test, students in states with testing delays are often forced to forgo income for additional weeks or months while waiting for a retest appointment to become available. This is simply not a burden the industry can tackle without significant supply chain disruptions.

CVTA’s economic analysis confirms that skills testing delays are causing real economic harm to future drivers and the U.S. economy. The significant economic impact demonstrates that this problem is national in scope and requires a national solution. Therefore, CVTA believes that Congress and the FMCSA must implement solutions to ensure states are meeting the testing demand in a timely manner.

Other Top Policy Issues

ELDT Compliance & Delays

Background Since the passage of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA), Congress and the Department of Transportation...

Read More »

Andrew Poliakoff

Andy Poliakoff is the Executive Director for CVTA. In this role, he promotes the mission of the membership organization and implements goals set by the Board of Directors. This includes forming partnerships with external stakeholders, providing guidance and direction to the CVTA staff team, and engaging with state and federal government agencies to advance CVTA’s mission of safety and career opportunities in the truck driver training industry.

In 2021 and 2022, Andy acted as federal affairs lead for Electrify America, interacting at high levels within Congress, the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Department of Energy, and the White House. In that capacity, he played a pivotal role in the optimization of large-scale infrastructure funding at the Federal Highway Administration as part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law

From 2019 to 2021 Andy served as Director of Gov't Affairs for CVTA and formed a strong bond with members, engaging on advocacy related to Entry-Level Driver Training, Skills Testing Delays, and Workforce funding. During the pandemic, Andy fought at the state and federal level to treat CDL training and testing as the essential services they are. He is personally invested in the important mission of CVTA's members to deliver safe training and to transform people's lives through truck driving careers.

Andy holds a bachelor's degree from Georgetown University and a law degree from the Columbus School of Law at Catholic University.

Cindy Atwood

Cindy Atwood is the Vice President at CVTA. An experienced association professional, Cindy handles all activities related to membership retention, financial accounting and committee engagement. Cindy artfully produces CVTA’s off-site biannual conferences, Hill Day operations and Board meetings, ensuring that the general membership and leadership’s necessities and wishes are met with the highest response.

An essential fixture in the truck driver training association space, Cindy manages CVTA’s Instructor Certification Program and provides critical counsel to new entrants into the truck driver training industry.

Kyle Hayes

Kyle Hayes is the Director of Government Relations at CVTA. In this role, he leads the implementation of the Association’s legislative and regulatory strategy. He is also the primary point of contact between CVTA Members and federal agencies, Congress, and state governments.

Hayes most recently led research projects that supported federal and state advocacy on healthcare and economic issues at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a nationally recognized research and policy institute based in Washington D.C. He received a master’s degree in public policy from American University in 2015 and graduated from the University of Georgia in 2012.