New York Gov. Kathy Hochul this week announced a plan to help address the ongoing critical shortage of truck and bus drivers by allowing qualified third parties to offer commercial driver license (CDL) road tests.
This would create more testing locations across the state and expand capacity at existing state-run sites, reducing the time it takes to put new CDL-bearing drivers on the road.
“As we continue to fight this pandemic, we remain committed to expanding opportunities for New Yorkers, supporting our schools, and doing all we can to address the supply-chain issues that have affected many businesses throughout our state and country,” Hochul said in an official statement. “By enabling third parties to give the road test for truck and bus drivers, we will create new avenues for New Yorkers to begin exciting careers, for our children to get to school, and to ensure that vital goods get where they need to be.”
The state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will hold a public hearing via WebEx on Jan. 26 from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Eastern. It will be open for public comments following a brief introduction by DMV representatives. Written comments may be submitted to CDLThirdPartyTesting@dmv.ny.gov from Jan. 18 to Feb. 4.
During the public hearing, DMV officials will provide an overview of the proposal, which calls for a phased roll-out of the initiative. First, other state agencies and authorities that have large fleets of commercial vehicles would begin conducting CDL road tests. The second phase would include qualified private entities. The DMV is expected to establish a rigorous monitoring system to ensure that qualified CDL trainers safely administer the road tests in compliance with state and federal regulations. Feedback gathered at the hearing will be used to evaluate and develop an implementation plan.
“We at DMV know how important it is to have qualified truck and bus drivers on the road, and we are committed to doing what we can to address the need,” said Mark J.F. Schroeder, DMV commissioner. “We look forward to gathering public input at this hearing and then acting to enable qualified third parties to offer CDL roads tests to give New Yorkers greater opportunity to take the test and to get good jobs driving these essential vehicles.”
Hochul’s previous efforts to address the school bus driver shortage include expediting the process for obtaining a CDL by removing the 14-day waiting period between the permit test and the road tests, increased capacity to administer road tests and written exams, and expanded available testing sites.
The latest proposal earned accolades from the New York Association for Pupil Transportation (NYAPT).
“Governor Hochul’s quick and decisive action will increase the number of school bus driver testing sites across the state and help to alleviate New York’s school bus driver shortage problem,” said David Christopher, executive director of NYAPT.