We’ve all heard of the truck driver shortage facing the country in one way or another. While it may not be the easiest issue to tackle, it is certainly one of the most important if we want to keep the trucks moving. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) demonstrated their commitment to this problem on Friday when they proposed trucking regulation changes that would make it easier to obtain a CDL. The first proposal would make the process easier specifically for certain qualified military personnel while the second proposal is broader. While these two proposals demonstrate continuing efforts to address the driver shortage, they are far from final. For a period of 60 days, the FMCSA will be fielding public comments on both proposals. After this, they will reevaluate the proposals before instituting any official changes in regulation. Below, we’ve listed the proposed trucking regulation changes and a brief overview about it. Let us know how you weigh in on these proposed trucking regulation changes.
This proposed trucking regulation change would allow states to waive the knowledge test for both veteran and active duty military personnel who already hold a military CDL. In 2012, the FMCSA made a similar change that allowed these individuals to have the skills test waived. According to the US Department of Transportation, more that 18,800 individuals have used this skills test waiver since its introduction. However, the FMCSA will still restrict this waiver to those who have been regularly employed in a military position requiring them to drive a commercial motor vehicle within the last year. This proposal is estimated to both increase the number of drivers on the road and to decrease the costs of issuing or receiving a CDL for employers, drivers, and states.
Commercial Learner’s Permit Validity
While the first of the proposed trucking regulation changes is specific to military personnel, the second proposed trucking regulation change allows states to make a CDL more accessible for everyone. Current regulation limits a CDL learner’s permit to 6 months before it expires. By updating this rule to give up to one full year, potential new drivers could have more time to learn the necessaries skills without having to go through the sometimes difficult (and costly) process of renewing their permit. Since driving a commercial vehicle is no easy feat, giving students more time to feel comfortable on the road may make the profession even more enticing to those who are considering it.
Why these proposed trucking regulation changes?
As we know very well, we need truckers. However, if current trends persist, we will not have nearly enough of them on the road in as little as 5 years. That said, the last thing that the FMCSA wants is unqualified drivers behind the wheel of any commercial vehicle. As the USDOT is constantly looking to keep everyone safe on the road, it is crucial that any regulation change is made with full confidence that it will not affect the quality of drivers. At this point, it appears that these proposed trucking regulation changes fit into that criteria. Keep in mind the FMCSA will be taking public comments for 60 days (starting 6/9/2017). If you have any opinions, positive or negative, about the proposals, follow this link and enter the docket number, FMCSA-2017-0047, in the keyword box to make your voice heard!