In late 2016, just a few weeks before the Obama Administration handed the White House keys to the Trump Administration, the FMCSA published far-reaching “entry level driver training” (ELDT) rules designed to raise the training bar (a) for individuals applying for their CDL for the first time, (b) for those upgrading an existing Class B CDL to a Class A, and, (c) for those applying for certain CDL endorsements for the first time. Although published in late 2016, FMCSA set a compliance date of February 2020 for all affected individuals and training schools/companies. Early this year there were whispers FMCSA might delay the early 2020 compliance date. However, in public comments to an industry group in early May 2019, an FMCSA official silenced some of those whispers by communicating the Agency’s implementation plan. The official stated that FMCSA sees the following implementation steps:
- FMCSA will implement a new “training provider registry” (TPR) sometime later in 2019, and all driver training schools will need to register and be listed on the TPR before the February 2020 compliance date;
- All registered training providers/schools will have to adopt and use the new training curriculum standards by February 2020; and,
- All new drivers will need to complete training with a registered training provider before taking their CDL skills test (on and after February 6, 2020).
After communicating these steps, however, the FMCSA official also stated the Agency itself may not be fully ready by February 2020 to perform a key function of the new program. That is, FMCSA may not be ready to electronically transmit certification information on trained individuals, received by FMCSA from registered training providers, to the State CDL licensing agencies. If this is the case, it remains to be seen or understood how the State licensing agencies will be able to verify that individuals applying for their CDL for the first time (and those upgrading or applying for endorsements for the first time) have received the proper training from registered providers. Without this verification ability, the critical, final step in this new training and CDL licensing process will be missing. As STC learns more how this important State verification piece will work on February 2020 and beyond, we will share it.