Regulatory Developments, Training, Transportation

FMCSA Delays Its Entry-Level Driver Training Rule

On February 4, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced it is delaying the compliance date for its entry-level driver training (ELDT) rule from February 7, 2020, to February 7, 2022 (85 FR 6088). The agency said it needs additional time to complete development of the information technology (IT) systems necessary for the rule’s Training Provider Registry (TPR).

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The interim final rule amends the FMCSA’s December 8, 2016, final rule, “Minimum Training Requirements for Entry-Level Commercial Motor Vehicle Operators” (81 FR 88732). Comments on the interim final rule are due March 20. Petitions for reconsideration of the rule are due March 5.

The FMCSA said the extension is necessary so it can complete the IT infrastructure to support the TPR. The TPR will allow training providers to self-certify, request listing on the TPR, and upload driver-specific ELDT completion data to the TPR. ELDT completion data will then be available to state driver licensing agencies (SDLAs).
The interim final rule postpones all the requirements of the December 8, 2016, final rule, including:

  • The date by which training providers must begin uploading driver-specific training certification information into the TPR, the electronic database that will contain ELDT data;
  • The date when SDLAs must begin confirming that applicants for a commercial driver’s license (CDL) have complied with ELDT requirements prior to taking a specified knowledge or skills test;
  • The date by which training providers wishing to provide ELDT must be listed on the TPR; and
  • The date by which drivers seeking a CDL or endorsement must complete the required training.

The December 8, 2016, ELDT final rule established minimum training standards for drivers seeking a Class A or Class B CDL for the first time; those upgrading their CDL to a Class B or A; and those obtaining hazardous materials, passenger, and school bus endorsements for the first time. The final rule also defined curriculum standards for theory and behind-the-wheel (BTW) instruction. It also required that SDLAs verify ELDT completion before allowing an applicant to take a skills test for a Class A or Class B CDL or passenger or school bus endorsement; or take the knowledge test prior to obtaining the hazardous materials endorsement.

On July 18, 2019, the FMCSA proposed delaying some of the compliance dates. The agency received 56 comments on the proposed partial delay, and 40 commenters requested that the agency delay all provisions of the ELDT final rule.

The agency now says it is delaying compliance dates for the entire ELDT final rule due to delays in implementation of the TPR that it did not foresee when the proposed rule was published. The agency said that despite its best efforts, it has encountered IT development issues largely beyond its control and cannot complete any portion of the TPR in time for the February 7, 2020, compliance date originally established by the ELDT final rule.

The delay implemented in the interim final rule also provides SDLAs time to make necessary changes to their own IT systems and internal procedures that will enable them to receive and use driver ELDT completion information transmitted from the TPR.