Attention Transportation Businesses: New CDL License Requirements You MUST Understand

What Your Business Needs to Know About the New CDL License Requirements

There are new rules coming into effect for entry level truck driver training (ELDT) in February 2020 that small businesses need to know about. The changes will affect drivers looking to get a commercial license (CDL) for the first time or when upgrading.

New CDL License Requirements

Small Business Trends contacted Fred Word, Executive Consultant at Illinois Safety Consultants to find out what your business needs to know about the new requirements.

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Why the Changes?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has implemented these changes which come into effect Feb 07, 2020. The changes were finalized in March 5 as a way to lessen the regulatory burdens on both applicants and training facilities. The FMCSA also claims these new streamlined rules will cut classroom instruction an average of 27 hours per applicant.

These changes are also designed to help combat a chronic truck driver shortage in the United States.

What Kinds of Commercial Vehicles Will Be Affected?

“The New ELDT is a FMCSA minimum training requirement for brand new operators of commercial vehicles applying for a Class A or Class B CDL for the first time or upgrading a CDL.2,” Word wrote in an email.

Each class of the CDL has certain weight restrictions and allowances that match specific commercial vehicles.  For example, a class A CDL is usually the one that’s assigned to tractor-trailers, flatbeds, tanker and livestock carrying vehicles.

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A Class B CDL is usually the one that allows drivers behind the wheel of trucks like city buses, tour buses and courier vehicles.

A CDL2 allows a driver to operate a bus that has more than 24 passengers.

There’s a big exception that you should know about. You don’t need to reapply if you’ve already got you CDL before the compliance date comes into effect.

What’s Going to Change?

It all starts on Feb 7, 2020. That’s the first day when you won’t be able to apply for any kind of a commercial vehicle license until you’ve gone through the revamped course.  It will include knowledge and behind the wheel training portions.

There is an emphasis on the knowledge aspect. Driver applicants need to score an 80% minimum on this part. On the other side of that coin, there is no minimum number of hours for training behind the wheel. However, if you’re thinking about getting your CDL, license you won’t be able to use a driving simulator to train.

What’s the New Focus?

“The knowledge portion will consist of over 30 course topics,” Word says. “Driver-trainees must demonstrate their understanding of the material by achieving an overall minimum score on the knowledge assessment.”

Your small business might use a training school to get your new hires up to speed. They need to be listed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration registry. You’ll need to do a little extra homework here to make sure of that.

Word explains the reasons for the change.

“Training providers must record and report student hours spent behind the wheel to that administration.”

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Rob Starr Rob Starr is a staff writer for Small Business Trends. Rob is a freelance journalist and content strategist/manager with three decades of experience in both print and online writing. He currently works in New York City as a copywriter and all across North America for a variety of editing and writing enterprises.

3 Reactions
  1. Having a CDL pretty much guarantees you’ll be able to get a job. It might be a glamorous job, but the pay keeps getting better and better with the shortage of drivers.

  2. Do you need it as long as you use a vehicle for your business? Even if you are not using it with direct contact with the customer?

  3. It’s good to know that I would need a Class B CDL if I would want to drive a tour bus someday. After working a desk job three years, I decided that I’d like to have a job that allows me to move around and see different sceneries so I can enjoy myself while working. It seems that I’m going to go through commercial driver training first before that becomes a reality.