Since the passage of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA), Congress and the Department of Transportation (DOT) have sought to put forth a regulation that requires anyone seeking a commercial driver’s license (CDL) to obtain formal training before taking the CDL skills test.
After years of back and forth between the agency and the courts, Congress again required the DOT to put forth a regulation on entry-level driver training (ELDT). CVTA and 25 other industry leaders were chosen as participants in the Entry-Level Driver Training Advisory Committee (ELDTAC). The negotiated rule produced by the ELDTAC served as the blueprint for the final regulation, which was issued on December 8, 2016.
When fully implemented in February 2022, all states, at a minimum, must meet the following requirements:
- All students to undergo a three-part curriculum comprised of classroom (theory), and behind-the-wheel (range and road). This collectively embodies approximately 30 subjects and requires students to demonstrate proficiency in all subjects and skills
- All training providers to certify its students are “proficient” in the skills curriculum based on their performance before taking the CDL exam
- Instructors must have two years teaching or industry experience
- All training providers to register, be approved, and listed on the FMCSA’s Training Provider Registry (TPR) (students who are not certified by a school on the TPR will not be able to test for a CDL)
- While there are no federal minimum hours of BTW training, all training providers must disclose how many BTW hours the student completed on the student’s certificate
- State driver’s license authorities (SDLAs) to modify their data systems to be able to record BTW curriculum hours completed by each CDL applicant
CVTA strongly supports ELDT, but encourages the FMCSA to fine-tune its implementation. While FMCSA did not incorporate all of the ELDTAC’s recommendations into its final rule, specifically an agreed upon minimum of 30-hours of required BTW training for Class A programs, CVTA believes it will greatly enhance highway safety because the curriculum requirements and demonstration of student skills performance far exceeds what most states currently require.
With few exceptions, CVTA is opposed to any attempts to further delay or water down this important regulation that improves highway safety. For too long, sub-standard training providers (“CDL Mills”) have been able to exist with little or no oversight with the express purpose of simply preparing CDL applicants for the skills test without adequate training. Since the ELDT’s implementation, we have seen an increase in these sub-standard “schools” and believe additional regulations are required.
While CVTA recognizes that administrative fixes are necessary, it is committed to working with FMCSA to ensure these procedures are put in place. As always, our goal is to promote safety in the profession to protect everyone on the road.