Editor’s note: On Feb. 4, 2020 the FMCSA announced a full two-year delay of its entry-level truck driver training rules. You can read about this in a more recent blog post.

When it comes to things mechanical, electrical or even information technology (IT), for something to work properly, everyone must be on the same page.

And that is why the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has proposed to delay by two years, to February 7, 2022, the entry-level driver training (ELDT) verification process that truck driver training was completed and states have confirmed CDL applicants meet that requirement. The public has until August 19, 2019, to comment on the proposed delay.

According to the agency, more time is needed for adjustments in the IT systems used by driver trainers and by state driver licensing agencies.

At the same time, FMCSA is moving forward with the February 7, 2020 effective date for minimum training requirements themselves. It is only the online verification – the uploading by trainers of driver certification information to the FMCSA database and the states checking that database to be sure CDL applicants have completed training and are eligible for a knowledge or skills test – that would be delayed.

Here is a reminder of what the minimum training requirements will be on February 7, 2020:

  • Beginning next February, all entry-level operators of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs), in both interstate and intrastate commerce, who are applying for a Class A or Class B commercial driver’s license (CDL); an upgrade to their CDL (such as a Class B CDL holder seeking a Class A CDL); or a hazardous materials (H), passenger (P), or school bus (S) endorsement for their license; must first satisfactorily complete minimum training requirements before taking the state-administered CDL or P and S endorsement skills test or the H endorsement knowledge examination.
  • The minimum training requirements consist of 31 mandatory theory (knowledge) topics in five general areas and behind-the-wheel (BTW) sessions on an off-road driving range and on the road. The BTW training component must be in a representative vehicle for the CDL class or endorsement sought. (The hazardous materials (H) endorsement training does not include a BTW component.) Truck driving simulators may be used for theory courses but not as a substitute for BTW sessions.
  • The training must be given by a “training provider” registered with FMCSA’s newly-established Training Provider Registry (TPR). The FMCSA proposal for delay in the ELDT verification process will not delay the requirement of TPR registration by training providers.
  • The ELDT rule does not require any specific minimum number of BTW hours. Instead, the training instructor must certify that the student’s performance of BTW maneuvers on the range and on the road is proficient. Similarly, for the theory portions, there are no federally-mandated minimum classroom hours, but a passing grade of 80% or better is required on a written or electronic test. However, if a state already requires minimum classroom or BTW training hours, then students domiciled in that state and taking training there must meet the state’s requirements, as well as the federal requirements.

Meanwhile, absent the online ELDT verification process, what should a driver do once they have successfully completed the required training? FMCSA did not propose a solution, but common sense says drivers should make sure they receive a printed certification from the training provider, which the driver can then display to the state driver licensing agency, if requested.

Get more details on the ELDT minimum training rules in the PrePass whitepaper, “What You Need to Know About New Entry-Level Driver Training Rules for Truckers.” You can read the complete FMCSA notice on the Federal Register website.