The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has proposed a set of comprehensive national prerequisite training standards for entry-level commercial truck and bus operators seeking to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL).
The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) reflects consensus recommendations of a negotiated rulemaking committee comprised of FMCSA representatives and 25 stakeholders and responds to a Congressional mandate imposed under the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act.
The agency says comprehensive training will emphasize safety and driving efficiency as well as other key factors.
According to a press release, applicants seeking a “Class A” CDL would be required to obtain a minimum of 30 hours of behind-the-wheel training from an instructional program that meets FMCSA standards, including at least 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.
For 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); and a previously disqualified CDL holder seeking to reacquire a license.
There is no proposed minimum number of hours that driver trainees must spend on the classroom portions of any of the individual curricula.
Under the proposal, military drivers, farmers, and firefighters would continue to remain generally exempt from the federal CDL requirements.