Update: On Tuesday, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) posted the official notice of the two-year extension of the Entry Level Driver Training compliance deadline. View a copy of the notice here. School Bus Fleet initially reported on the compliance deadline delay on Jan. 29. That story follows below.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has officially extended the compliance deadline for its federal driver training requirement to 2022.
In an Interim Final Rule, which includes a request for comment, the federal agency announced in a news release on Wednesday that it is amending its Dec. 8, 2016, final rule, "Minimum Training Requirements for Entry-Level Commercial Motor Vehicle Operators" (Entry Level Driver Training or ELDT final rule) deadline from Feb. 7, 2020, to Feb. 7, 2022.
As School Bus Fleet previously reported, Larry Minor, the associate administrator for policy and designated federal officer for the FMCSA, told attendees at the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS) conference in October that the ELDT certification training final rule deadline would be pushed back because of information technology (IT) challenges that would interfere with commercial driver’s license (CDL) training providers’ registration. He added that attendees could still start putting together their training programs if they hadn’t already done so.
The ELDT final rule's Training Provider Registry (TPR) will allow training providers to self-certify that they meet the training requirements and will provide the electronic interface that will receive and store ELDT certification information from training providers and transmit that information to the State Driver Licensing Agencies (SDLAs).
The extension also provides SDLAs time to modify their IT systems and procedures as needed to accommodate their receipt of driver-specific ELDT data from the TPR.
FMCSA is delaying the entire ELDT final rule, as opposed to a partial delay as proposed in July, due to delays in implementation of the TPR that were not foreseen when the proposed rule was published.
The agency noted in the Interim Final Rule that it received 56 comments in response to its July 2019 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) recommending a partial delay of the rule. Forty of those commenters requested that FMCSA delay all provisions of the final rule.
As SBF previously reported, NASDPTS submitted comments in August in response to the agency’s proposal to extend the compliance date of two provisions in the ELDT rule.
The FMCSA was looking at the time to delay the deadline from Feb. 7, 2020, to Feb. 7, 2022 for training providers to upload ELDT certification information into the TPR and for state driver licensing agencies to receive driver-specific ELDT information. NASDPTS encouraged the FMCSA to also delay the compliance date by which training providers must register for the TPR and covered driver applicants must begin receiving the specified training. The association also noted in its comments in August that a “bifurcated” schedule is not consistent with the fully integrated approach that was recommended by NASDPTS, and a “partial” delay can potentially cause confusion about the required actions to be taken and consequences for not complying.
As an Interim Final Rule, the agency is once again seeking comments, which must be submitted within 45 days of the rule’s publication in the Federal Register.
Charles Hood, the executive director for NASDPTS, informed the association’s members of the official extension in an email alert on Wednesday. In the alert, Hood noted that NASDPTS was one of the entities that participated in 2015 in the negotiated rulemaking process and was involved in the recommendations on which the FMCSA's ELDT rulemaking is based.
Hood added that NASDPTS “expects to again submit comments supporting the two-year delay in order to provide for integrated and orderly implementation of these important federal regulations.”