Entry Level Driver Changes

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Entry Level Driver Changes


Compliance with the new Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT) rule is quickly approaching. As of February 7, 2020, the education requirements will change for an individual who wants to:


·         Obtain a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL);

·         Upgrade a CDL; or

·         Obtain a passenger, school bus or hazmat endorsement.


Also changing are the requirements for those who instruct these individuals.

Gone will be the days of obtaining a learner’s permit, driving with a CDL holder for as little as a few hours, and then taking the CDL road test. The process will become more detailed and will take more time than before.


Under the new requirements, an entry-level driver must, prior to taking the CDL test, successfully complete a prescribed program of theory and behind-the-wheel instruction provided by a school or other entity listed on FMCSA’s Training Provider Registry (TPR).



Entry-Level Driver FAQs


Who is subject to the new entry-level driver training requirements?


As of February 7, 2020, the new entry-level driver training (ELDT) rule applies to anyone:


·         Applying for his or her first commercial driver’s license (CDL)

·         Upgrading his or her current CDL (from Class B to Class A)

·         Obtaining a new passenger, school bus, or hazmat endorsement


This rule does not apply to individuals who had a valid and current CDL and the appropriate endorsement(s) before February 7, 2020.



How does the new ELDT rule work with the current/old rule? What are the motor carrier’s responsibilities?


The old and new ELDT rules are two are separate and different requirements, and should be addressed separately.


First, the current/old ELDT rule applies to drivers with less than one year of experience operating a CMV requiring a CDL in interstate commerce. It is the motor carrier’s responsibility to ensure that compliance is happening, and that proper documentation is on file for each driver. As of February 7, 2020, this rule will “sunset.” Carriers will no longer need to comply. Anyone who was subject to this rule prior to February 7, 2020, should have a copy of the training certificate in his or her DQ file.


As for the “new” ELDT rule, the motor carrier has no training or documentation responsibilities. The training (and certification of successful completion of training) must happen prior to an individual taking his or her CDL skills test. The training must be completed by an entity listed on FMCSA’s Training Provider Registry (TPR).



Who can provide entry-level driver training?


Both the theory/knowledge and behind-the wheel training must be provided by an entity listed on FMCSA’s Training Provider Registry (TPR). Most entities listed in the TPR will be truck driver training schools and motor carriers that have schools to train their own drivers.


FMCSA expected to have the TPR up and running later this year. At that time, a training entity will be able to complete an application, and if approved by FMCSA, be listed on the TPR as an approved training provider.



Will this be an easy requirement for motor carriers to comply with?


Yes and no. If the carrier is hiring drivers who already have valid CDLs, there is no additional training or documentation that must be done under the new ELDT requirements.


If the motor carrier is hiring drivers who do not possess a CDL and then trains these individuals to take the CDL skills test, the training process will, in all likelihood, become more involved and time-consuming than in the past, as now both theory and behind-the-wheel training must follow a prescribed course.



What type of training is required?


The required training includes both theory and behind-the-wheel instruction.


The instruction must be provided by an entity listed on a Training Provider Registry (TPR). The TPR is administered by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).



What are the specifics when it comes to theory instruction? Is there a certain amount of time mandated? Are there specific topics that must be addressed?


There is no minimum number of hours that driver-trainees must spend on the theory instruction, but the training instructor must cover all topics set forth in the curriculum.

The topics in the curriculum cover five areas of instruction:


·         Basic operation;

·         Safe operating procedures;

·         Advanced operating procedures;

·         Vehicle systems and reporting malfunctions; and

·         Non-driving activities.


Driver-trainees must demonstrate their understanding of the material by achieving an overall minimum score of 80 percent on the theory assessment.



Is there a certain amount of time mandated for behind-the-wheel training? Are there specific topics that must be addressed?


Behind-the-wheel training includes both range and public road instruction. This instruction must be conducted in the class of commercial motor vehicle that the trainee will be taking his or her CDL road test in when the time comes to complete the skills/road test.


There is no minimum number of instruction hours for behind-the-wheel training, but the instructor must cover all of the topics included in the curriculum.


The instructor must determine and document that each driver-trainee has demonstrated proficiency in all elements of the behind-the-wheel curriculum. The instructor must also document the total number of clock hours each driver-trainee spends to complete the behind-the-wheel curriculum.



How does a training provider get onto the TPR?


Training providers must offer and teach a training curriculum that meets all FMCSA standards for entry-level drivers and must also meet requirements related to:


·         Course administration;

·         Qualifications for instructional personnel;

·         Assessments;

·         Issuance of training certificates; and

·         Training vehicles.


Training providers that meet these requirements would be eligible for listing on the TPR and must continue to meet the eligibility requirements in order to stay listed on the TPR.


Training providers must also attest that they meet the specified requirements, and in the event of an FMCSA audit or investigation of the provider, must supply documentary evidence to verify their compliance.


The electronic TPR application is expected to be available in late 2019.



Can I access the TPR today?


Not yet. FMCSA has not yet posted the TPR on its website. It is expected to be available in late 2019.