A new rule created by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, (FMCSA) will make it easier for truck drivers to receive their commercial driver’s license (CDL). What was once prohibited, third-party CDL instructors are now permitted to administer driving tests to students. The new rule, which goes into effect in February, will permit states to allow the instructor to do both the teaching and the testing.
Truck drivers have made a huge impact in the United States since the beginning of this pandemic, and the FMSCA and other administrations are taking notice. CDL drivers are in high demand with even more of a driver shortage since COVID-19 than prior. Social distancing rules, rising insurance rates, and more in-depth drug testing have all worsened the driver shortage.
According to David Heller, Truckload Carriers Association’s VP of government affairs, in 2020, the industry saw fewer new drivers graduating from schools. Earlier in December, he said the current industry driver shortage has grown to 80,000 which is a 30% increase from 2019.
With COVID-19 cases on the rise, the FMSCA is also giving an extension for any Commercial Learning Permits (CLP’s) or CDL’s that are set to expire at the end of 2020. They are extending this until February 28, 2021. According the FleetOwner, the three points that will be waived for CDL/CLP drivers are: CDL’s that are set to expire will be extended until February 28, 2021, CLP holders will not be required to retake the general and endorsement knowledge tests if their CLP is expiring during this time frame, and the requirement that CLP holders wait 14 days to take CDL skills test is also waived until February 28, 2021.
FleetOwner also goes on the explain Medical Requirement for CDL/CLP and non-CDL drivers will also be waived. The requirement states that CDL holders, CLP holders and non-CDL drivers, have a medical examination and certification. This will be waived until February 28, 2021 for those that had their certifications expire September 1, 2020 and after.
Many industries have no choice but to become nimble due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The trucking industry is no different. Driver shortage is a major problem and hopefully with some of the small changes the FMSCA has been making, finding drivers will become easier.