New entry-level driver training (ELDT) rules went into effect on February 7, 2022.
What had previously been an employer’s training obligation switched to licensing procedures that leave most employers out of the process unless they have registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) as a training provider.
What are the ELDT Requirements?
On and after the effective date, drivers must pass in-depth classroom and behind-the-wheel training — from an FMCSA-registered training provider — prior to:
- Obtaining a Class A or Class B commercial driver’s license (CDL) for the first time;
- Upgrading an existing CDL to a higher class; or
- Obtaining a school bus (S), passenger (P), or hazardous materials (H) endorsement for the first time.
Drivers will still be able to take the knowledge test needed to obtain a commercial learner’s permit (CLP) without entry-level training, but will need training before taking a CDL or endorsement skills test (or the H endorsement knowledge test).
Exemptions to Training Requirements
The following drivers are exempt from the new training requirements:
- Drivers who already hold a CDL, learner’s permit (CLP), or an S, P, or H endorsement as of February 7, 2022, unless seeking an upgrade or if the CLP expires before the driver gets a CDL.
- Any drivers for whom the state has waived the CDL skills test (see §383.77).
- Drivers seeking to remove a restriction (see §383.135(b)(7)).
Who Can Act as the Training Provider?
Anyone who wants to provide ELDT-based training must apply to be added to the Training Provider Registry (tpr.fmcsa.dot.gov). This includes employers with in-house training programs intended to assist drivers in getting a CDL, upgrading a CDL class, or obtaining an endorsement. To qualify as a training provider, parties must:
- Develop or purchase a curriculum that complies with 49 CFR Part 380;
- Have an adequate classroom and range where they conduct the training;
- Have vehicles of the correct type and class;
- Have instructors with the correct CDL and at least two years of driving experience;
- Comply with any state/local requirements that might apply to training providers; and
- Complete the TPR application.
Employers who do not want to be listed on the TPR can still conduct routine driver training as a best practice, but they can’t perform ELDT-based training without appearing on the TPR.
Employers Can Help Facilitate the Process
To prevent any surprises at the local DMV window, employers may need to communicate the new training requirements to drivers and even lead them through the process of finding someone on the TPR. A motor carrier may even choose to pay for this training on behalf of the driver, but that’s optional.
Assisting drivers through the new ELDT requirements is to the motor carrier’s benefit. Any delay in licensing due to outstanding training prevents the carrier from using the driver in certain capacities, and with the driver shortage, a company cannot afford to have idle trucks.
About the Author: Kathy Close is a transportation editor at J.J. Keller & Associates, Inc. Her areas of expertise include transportation security, DOT drug and alcohol testing, and driver qualification. For more information, e-mail email@example.com.