The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) established a Final Rule on Dec. 7, 2016 dictating the minimum requirements drivers must follow in order to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL).
To acquire a CDL, a driver must meet the minimum level of skills and education needed to understand and safely operate a large commercial vehicle, such as an 18-wheel truck or bus. The rule also sets standards for the qualifications necessary to train entry-level commercial drivers.
First-time CDL applicants must prove their knowledge of a commercial vehicle’s structure and operational abilities, along with demonstrating their proficiency for driving commercial vehicles on a test course and on the road. Any training course must meet FMCSA standards.
However, there is no requirement for the number of driving hours a new driver must complete, a point that has proven controversial among commercial trucking and transportation associations.
The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking from the FMSCA suggested drivers should have a minimum of 30-hours of real-world driving experience, but the proposal was removed from the final ruling.
The FMCSA claimed that requiring drivers to complete a minimum number of real-world driving hours was not fiscally beneficial and would not benefit new drivers.
More than 32 states, along with top training programs for CDL drivers, require drivers to complete a minimum number of real-world driving hours. The Commercial Vehicle Training Association currently mandates that drivers who have been recently issued a CDL complete 40 hours of real-world driving.
The Final Rule for entry-level driver qualifications goes into effect on Feb. 6, 2017 and has a compliance deadline of Feb. 2020.
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