The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is proposing a set of comprehensive national prerequisite training standards for those seeking a commercial driver’s license (CDL). “Well-trained drivers are safer drivers, which leads to greater safety for our families and friends on our highways and roads,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “With the help of our partners, this proposal serves as a major step towards ensuring that commercial vehicle drivers receive the necessary training required to safely operate a large truck or motorcoach.”
Under the proposal, applicants seeking a “Class A” CDL — necessary for operating a combination tractor-trailer type vehicle weighing 26,001 pounds or more — would be required to obtain a minimum of 30 hours of behind-the-wheel training from an instructional program that meets FMCSA standards, including a minimum of 10 hours of operating the vehicle on a practice driving range.
Applicants seeking a “Class B” CDL — necessary for operating a heavy straight truck (such as a dump truck or box truck) or a school bus, city transit bus, or motorcoach — would be required to obtain a minimum of 15 hours of behind-the-wheel training, including a minimum of seven hours of practice range training.
There is no proposed minimum number of hours that driver trainees must spend on the classroom portions of any of the individual curricula.
“A diverse group of commercial motor vehicle stakeholders completed a tremendous amount of work, and that effort resulted in an unprecedented consensus,” said FMCSA Acting Administrator Scott Darling. “We’ve designated 2016 as our ‘Year of Partnerships’ and these comprehensive entry-level driver training standards exemplify our commitment to working closely with our safety partners, including state and local law enforcement, the safety advocacy community, and all other stakeholders to reduce crashes and to save lives.”
Mandatory, comprehensive training in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and all U.S. territories would apply to the following individuals under the proposal:
- First-time CDL applicants
- Current CDL holders seeking a license upgrade (e.g., a Class B CDL holder seeking a Class A CDL) or an additional endorsement (necessary, e.g., to transport hazardous materials, operate a tank truck, school bus, or motorcoach, or pull double and/or triple trailers)
- A previously disqualified CDL holder seeking to reacquire a license.
These individuals would be subject to the proposed entry-level driver training requirements and must complete a course of instruction provided by an entity that:
- Meets the minimum qualifications for training providers
- Covers the curriculum
- Is listed on FMCSA’s proposed Training Provider Registry
- Submits electronically to FMCSA the training certificate for each individual who completes the training.
Under the proposal, military drivers, farmers and firefighters would continue to remain generally exempt from the federal CDL requirements.