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Amid driver shortage, FMCSA seeks to ‘ease entry’ for those seeking CDLs

June 13, 2017

Washington – The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is seeking to help remedy what the agency calls a national shortage of qualified truck and bus drivers by proposing two regulatory changes for obtaining a commercial driver’s license.

The first proposed change, announced June 9, would allow state driver licensing agencies to waive the CDL knowledge test for active duty military personnel and qualified veterans with military CDLs.

FMCSA has permitted states to let those groups forgo the CDL skills test since 2012. The agency stated in a press release that more than 18,800 people have moved from military service to commercial truck and bus driving with that waiver.

The second proposal would allow states to issue a CDL learner’s permit that would be valid for up to one year, instead of the current six-month limitation.

“Taken together, these two proposals will help ease the entry for thousands of qualified individuals into career opportunities as professional truck and bus drivers – a critical occupation facing an acute labor shortage in our country,” FMCSA Deputy Administrator Daphne Jefferson said in the press release. “We could eliminate unnecessary burdens to both the applicants and to the states, save time, reduce costs and, most importantly, ensure that states only issue [CDLs] to well-trained, highly qualified individuals."

Jefferson added that safety still remains a critical part of these two proposals.

“At the core of both proposals is safety of the motoring public,” Jefferson said. “We will continue to demand that commercial truck and bus drivers, and their employers, adhere to the safety standards that exist to protect all drivers.”

Comments on both proposals will be due 60 days after they are published in the Federal Register.