Proposals Would Make it Easier to Obtain CDL, Aid in Driver Shortage

Yesterday, two proposals brought forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration were published in the Federal Register and would make it easier to obtain a commercial driver’s license.

The first proposal, The Commercial Learner’s Permit Validity rule, would extend the expiration date on a CDL learner’s permit from the current 6 months to one year before the individual would need to reapply.

According to the agency, the extension would “eliminate unnecessary retesting and additional fees” for those needing more time.1

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, however, is afraid that the proposal “could be used to keep trainees in that training mode for an extended period of time and pay them significantly less because they don’t have their full CDL,” according to Collin Long, OOIDA’s director of legislative affairs.2

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The second proposal, Military Licensing and State Commercial Driver’s License Reciprocity rule, would allow active duty and veteran military personnel, as well as National Guard and Reservists, to obtain a CDL without the need for a knowledge test if following criteria are met: 1) they apply within a year of regularly operating a commercial vehicle in a military position and 2) they have no military traffic convictions.1,3States have been allowed to waive the CDL skills portion of the test for military members since 2012 and has led to over 18,000 active and former military members becoming civilian truck and bus drivers.2

OOIDA showed support for the military exemption and the FMCSA further added that, “We owe so much to our men and women who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces.  This action would be one more way we can express our gratitude and assist those with a military CDL who wish to utilize their extensive training and experience operating heavy trucks and buses into careers as civilians.”2

The FMCSA believes that the two proposals will also aid in the driver shortage, which is no doubt expected to get worse over the years, with the Dec. 18th compliance date for electronic logging devices expected to further tighten capacity.

OOIDA has been a known opposer of the ELD mandate, believing that the ruling violated the Fourth Amendment protecting from illegal search and seizure, invades a driver’s privacy, leads to driver harassment, actually increases the driver shortage, has no direct correlation to safety improvements, and has a high cost of implementation which can drive smaller businesses and owner-operators out of business.  In fact, OOIDA was recently denied an appeal by the Supreme Court over the issue.  While FMCSA’s proposals are believed to allow thousands of drivers to fluently enter the industry, OOIDA believes that it is driver turnover, not a shortage, where the problem lies and that these proposals will not fix those issues.

Comments on the proposals are being accepted until Aug. 11th.  Click the links below to read each in the Federal Register.

Commercial Learner’s Permit Validity

Military Licensing and State Commercial Driver’s License Reciprocity