Over the years, individual states have been in charge of mandating the requirements for local CDL training programs, while the federal government chose not to make any rulings on the matter. This all changed in February of 2022 when the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) instituted the Entry-Level Driving Training program to standardize training and safety procedures across the country. This action may be a good thing in the long run, as it will streamline the CDL training process, but in the meantime, it has left a lot of aspiring drivers unsure of what step to take next. This guide breaks down the details of the ELDT mandate to help you better understand the requirements and process for obtaining your CDL.
What is the ELDT Mandate?
In the simplest terms, this mandate is the FMCSA’s attempt to reconcile differences in training for commercial drivers across the country and improve on-the-road safety in the process. The mandate outlines the minimum requirements that a driver must meet to demonstrate their expertise and experience and earn CDL certifications. In many states, the requirements for obtaining a CDL will not change drastically, but instead, the different programs across state lines will be unified under a standard procedure. Now, no matter who your CDL training provider is, the steps you’ll take will remain the same, even if you need to switch programs or move to a new state before completing your training.
How Will the Mandate Affect Students?
What Is Required
Going forward, all prospective truck drivers will be required to complete two training segments: theory training and skill training. The theory portion will be taught in a classroom and includes both lectures and computer-based instruction. Students will study topics such as basic operation, standard safety procedures, and non-driving activities. At the end of the instruction period, there will be an exam on the course topics, and students must score an 80% or higher on the evaluation to pass.
The skills portion of the training will be based on behind-the-wheel practice and experience. Think of this like a standard driving test. You’ll be tasked with operating a vehicle of the type you’re getting certified for and demonstrating proficiency in a variety of maneuvers both in controlled conditions and on public roads.
What Is Not Required
When the new mandate was announced, some expected it to introduce a requirement for hours of service or to restrict what types of venues would be allowed to offer CDL training programs. Ultimately, neither of these restrictions were included in the mandate. There are no limits to hours of service before you can take the test, and trucking schools, commercial businesses, rural cooperatives, and school districts are all still allowed to offer classes. However, any entity that wishes to offer a qualified training program must register as a training provider through the FMCSA.
Who Is Impacted by These Changes?
If you already hold a CDL, the chances are good that you’re in the clear and won’t be affected by these changes. The mandate is intended to bolster entry-level training, so if you already have experience on the road, the mandate will have very little impact on your day-to-day operations. However, if you’re you’re just starting training or were in the middle of the process when the mandate took effect, you will need to abide by the new rules.
The ELDT mandate dictates new regulations for three main groups: people looking to obtain their CDL for the first time, people who are adding a Hazmat (H), Passenger (P), or School Bus (S) licensure onto their existing certifications, and those who want to upgrade their license from a CDL B to a CDL A.
How to Find a Registered Training Provider
With the release of the new mandate, the FMCSA has also put out a Training Provider Registry that collects all verified and registered training providers in one convenient database. Students can search this registry for qualified CDL training programs by visiting the FMCSA’s website. The listings include local, online, and traveling providers, and each entry should have all the information you need to contact a program and start your training as soon as possible. You can also narrow your search by training type or look up specific programs. If you’re already enrolled in a program, it’s crucial that you check it against this registry and ensure that your training aligns with the new ELDT mandate.
Completing the CDL training program at Hamrick School will equip you with all the skills and experience necessary to make your resume stand out. To inquire about admissions, call us at (330) 239-2229.
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