WASHINGTON, D.C. — A new final rule issued on Tuesday aims to streamline the process of and lower costs for drivers to upgrade from a Class B to a Class A commercial driver’s license (CDL).
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is amending the Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT) regulations that were published on Dec. 8, 2016. The ELDT rule has required the same level of theory training for individuals obtaining a CDL for the first time as for those who already hold a Class B CDL and are upgrading to a Class A CDL.
FMCSA noted on its website that it recognizes that because Class B CDL holders have previous training or experience, they should not be required to receive the same level of theory training as individuals who have never held a CDL. FMCSA has concluded that this change will maintain the same level of safety established by the 2016 ELDT rule.
By adopting a new Class A CDL theory instruction upgrade curriculum, the final rule will save eligible driver trainees and motor carriers $18 million annually, according to the FMCSA’s website.
“Today’s action demonstrates the department’s commitment to reducing regulatory burdens and addressing our nation’s shortage of commercial drivers,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.
FMCSA estimates that more than 11,000 driver trainees will benefit annually from the new rule and see an average reduction of 27 hours in time spent completing theory instruction. Another potential result, according to the FMCSA, is in cost savings not only for driver trainees, but the motor carriers that employ them as well.
The final rule applies only to Class B CDL holders, and does not change the behind-the-wheel (BTW) training requirements, on a driving range and on a public road, included in the 2016 ELDT rule. All driver trainees, including those who hold a Class B CDL, are required to demonstrate proficiency in all elements of the BTW curriculum in a Group A vehicle.
A copy of the final rule is available here.
More information on the topic is also available on the FMCSA website.