Trucksafe's President and transportation attorney Brandon Wiseman recently joined Tenstreet to discuss the recently implemented Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT) rule and what motor carriers need to understand about that rule. In this article, we'll recap some of the most frequently asked questions about ELDT.
Impact of new ELDT on existing training requirements
Historically, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) have had very little to say about mandatory training for commercial drivers. While the regulations certainly require motor carriers to ensure that their drivers can, by reason of experience, training, or both, be capable of safely operating a commercial motor vehicle, they offer very little detail about the training itself. That is, except in certain limited circumstance. One of those circumstances was entry-level driver training, which, until February 7, 2022, it was mandatory for carriers who hired CDL drivers with less than 1 years' worth of commercial driving experience to provide training to those drivers on certain topics.
For those drivers, the regulations previously required carriers to train them on (1) driver qualification; (2) hours-of-service; (3) driver wellness; and (4) whistleblower protections. However, now that the new ELDT rule is in effect (as of Feb. 7, 2022), carriers no longer have this obligation. As addressed below, this is because the onus is now on entry-level drivers themselves to obtain the new training.
Who is subject to the new training rule?
Again, the new rule takes the onus of providing entry-level training off of motor carriers that employ CDL drivers and places it on the shoulders of the CDL drivers themselves. More specifically, the new entry-level driver training requirement applies to the following three categories of CDL drivers:
Drivers obtaining a Class A or B CDL for the first time;
Class B holders seeking to upgrade to a Class A CDL; and
CDL holders seeking a school bus (S), passenger (P), or hazmat (H) endorsement for the first time.
Drivers who fall into these categories are now required to obtain entry-level driver training from a certified training provider in order to be eligible to take the skills tests (and knowledge test for the H endorsement) that are necessary to complete their respective CDL transactions. For example, a driver seeking to upgrade her Class B CDL to a Class A on or after February 7, 2022 now has to obtain and pass the new entry-level driver training requirement in order to take the skills test to complete the upgrade process.
The rule is not retroactive, meaning that it doesn't apply to any drivers who completed their respective CDL transactions prior to February 7, 2022, but it does apply to any drivers who fall into one of these three categories after that date.
What does ELDT entail?
The new entry-level training is broken into two subdivisions: a theory and a behind-the-wheel (BTW) component. With one caveat, drivers have to pass both sections in order to be eligible to take their respective skills test. The caveat is for existing CDL holders who are only seeking to add a hazmat endorsement to their license. These particular drivers only have to take the theory portion of the ELDT to be eligible to take the knowledge test that is necessary to get the H endorsement.
The mandatory ELDT curriculum is set out in Appendices A through E of Part 390 of the FMCSRs. As you would expect, the curriculum differs for each type of CDL transaction the driver is looking to complete (e.g., Class A, Class B, endorsements).
The training itself must be developed by certified training providers. And although the rule doesn't set any minimum hours requirement for either the theory or the BTW components, drivers have to pass the theory component with a score of at least 80% and have to pass the BTW component--which includes both range and public roadway driving--to the satisfaction of the training provider.
Where do drivers find certified training providers?
Entities, whether they are dedicated driving schools, motor carriers, or state agencies, that wish to provide the required entry-level driver training must be listed on the FMCSA's Training Provider Registry. In order to be listed, the providers will have to self-certify that they meet certain conditions, including having curriculum that meets the FMCSA's minimum standards for entry-level training. Drivers seeking to obtain the required training have to ensure their training provider is listed on the Training Provider Registry. And once a driver passes the required training, the certified training provider must issue that driver a certificate and upload an electronic copy to the Registry so that state licensing agencies know that the driver is now eligible to take the required skills test to complete their CDL transaction.
In sum, the new entry-level driver training requirement places the responsibility of obtaining the required training on certain CDL drivers who are required to pass a skills test (or knowledge test in the case of hazmat endorsement applicants) in order to complete their CDL transactions. These drivers must obtain the required training from a certified training provider in order to be eligible to take the necessary test. This requirement removes the onus from motor carriers who were previously required to provide entry-level driver training to CDL drivers who had less than 1 years' worth of commercial driving experience when first onboarding.
If you have questions about the new entry-level driver training requirement and how it impacts your operations, please feel free to contact us. For more in-depth training on the FMCSA's safety regulations and the requirements that apply to motor carriers and their drivers, make sure you check out our comprehensive regulatory courses at Trucksafe Academy. And if you need any DOT resources such as driver qualification forms, hours-of-service records, vehicle maintenance files, etc., please check out our extensive resource library.