Last March, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would require drivers to put in a minimum number of hours behind the wheel before they could take their CDL test. According to the proposal, Class A CDL drivers “would be required to obtain a minimum of 30 hours of behind-the-wheel training from an instructional program that meets FMCSA standards, including a minimum of 10 hours of operating the vehicle on a practice driving range,” while Class B CDL drivers “would be required to obtain a minimum of 15 hours of behind-the-wheel training, including a minimum of seven hours of practice range training.” 1
Drivers must also be versed in “hours-of-service compliance and hours logging, wellness on the road, whistleblower protections, handling cargo documents, and basic vehicle maintenance,” however, there are no set requirements for how long a driver must spend in instruction. 2
In December, the agency announced its final ruling, removing the proposed 30 hour minimum of behind-the-wheel training and omitting a minimum number of hours that must be met in a classroom setting before obtaining a CDL. Applicants, however, must still “demonstrate proficiency in knowledge training and behind-the-wheel training on a driving range and on a public road, with training obtained from an instructional program that meets FMCSA standards.” 3
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, The Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, The Truck Safety Coalition, and Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways filed a petition to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration stating that “removal of the 30-hour minimum disregards Congress’ intentions for the rule” and “does not advance safety beyond current practice in which any and all untrained CDL applicants can perform basic minor movements of CMVs and obtain a CDL without being exposed to the real-world experience of driving a CMV on public roads while receiving instruction from a qualified instructor,” calling for the ruling to be put on hold until the 30-hour minimum requirement is reinstated. 4
As it now stands, the ruling will go into effect Feb. 6, 2017 with a compliance date of Feb. 2020.