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undefinedThe Department of Transportation (DOT) Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has established a new standard for entry-level driver training.

In recent years, the FMCSA has taken steps to improve the safety of commercial trucking operations by implementing new regulations, including the "Entry Level Driver Training Rule."

Although the new standard was mandated by a six-year-old law, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) Act, approved in December 2016, is scheduled for enactment last February 2023. The wheels often roll slowly at the national level. Yet, some training facilities and trucking companies still need to comply with its tenants fully.

How the Entry-Level Driver Training Rule Applies Nationwide

This rule, which became effective on February 7, 2020, implementation was pushed down the road for three years.

It requires all new commercial truck and bus drivers to complete a minimum of 30 hours of training before receiving their commercial driver's license (CDL). The training must include both classroom instruction and behind-the-wheel (BTW) training, and it must cover a wide range of topics, including vehicle inspection, basic vehicle control, driving in different weather conditions, and proper communication with other drivers on the road.

The Entry Level Driver Training Rule is crucial to improving road safety. It is intended to ensure all new commercial drivers receive a minimum level of training before they start operating heavy vehicles on public roads. This training helps to reduce the risk of accidents and improve the overall safety of the trucking industry.

The DOT FMCSA has established a baseline standard for commercial drivers requesting:

  • A first-time endorsement for a Passenger (P), School Bus (S), or Hazardous Materials (H).
  • To obtain their first commercial driver’s license (CDL) Class A or B.
  • To upgrade their Class B to a Class A CDL.

The start date for implementation is 7 February 2023. These conditions are not retroactive. Drivers who received their CDL or upgrade, commercial learner’s permit (CPL), or P, S, or H endorsement before 7 February will not have to attend the Entry Level Driver Training.

The FMCSA also requires all training providers be certified by the agency, and they maintain records of all training they provide. This helps ensure the training is consistent and of high quality, and it also makes it easier for the FMCSA to monitor the training providers and ensure they follow the rules.

In addition to improving road safety, the Entry-Level Driver Training Rule also benefits new truck and bus drivers by giving them the skills and knowledge they need to start their careers. This training can lead to better job opportunities, higher earnings, and increased confidence and satisfaction in their work.

Entry-level drivers must choose an FMCSA-approved registry trainer listed on the agency Training Provider’s Registry (TPR). Although these trainers can self-register with the FMCSA, the agency advises new drivers to choose trainers carefully.

The FMCSA recommends a minimum of 30 hours of BTW training, but it is not mandatory. Submitting the record of BTW training is mandated, however. The number of hours is left up to the state.

For more information about the national program, check with the FMCSA.

How the DMV Will Apply It in CA    

The DMV in CA will require applicants for a Class A or B CDL to have completed a minimum of 15 hours of BTW training, and submit to the DMV, through the Virtual Field Office, the CA Commercial Driver BTW Certification (DL 1236) as proof of training completion before issuance of the CDL.

Applicants from the Troops to Trucks program for military or Veterans in CA do not need to undergo entry-level driver training if they submit a waiver with a DL 965.

See the CA.DMV.GOV FAQ page for answers to random questions about the program in CA.

In conclusion, if implemented and executed correctly, the Entry Level Driver Training Rule from the FMCSA is a crucial step toward improving the trucking industry's safety. It ensures all new commercial drivers receive a minimum level of training, including “behind the wheel (BTW) training hours with an instructor.” The FMCSA hopes to reduce the risk of accidents and improve road safety for everyone.

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The DMV Portal CA Commercial Driver Handbook.

The US DOT FMCSA Guidance, Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT).

The DMV Portal, Entry Level Driver Training (ELDT) CDL Applicants.

The HDT article, 4 Things to Know About the Entry Level Driver Training Rule.

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