Commercial Driver’s License Standards Getting Tighter in 2011

You don’t have to be a truck accident attorney to recognize this as good news: The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is toughening standards for commercial driver’s license (CLD) testing and setting new minimum Federal standards for states to issue the commercial learner’s permit (CLP).

Commercial Driver's License

These changes, part of a three-year effort to improve the driver testing/licensing system, are mandated in a rule filed this month and scheduled to take effect in July, 2011.

Aspiring truck drivers will have to get state-issued learners’ permits, but to do so they’ll have to pass federally approved commercial drivers license tests of knowledge and skills. In effect, the requirements to obtain a CLP will become the same as those for obtaining a CDL.

Applicants will have to have a clear driving record, be at least 18, and maintain the learner’s permit for two weeks before applying for a full CDL. The permit is good for 180 days and can be renewed for another 180 days, but after that the driver has to take the CDL skill exam. Note that language interpreters won’t be allowed to assist during testing, and states will have to verify social security numbers (as proof of legal residence).

As for the agencies themselves, they will have to keep digitized photos of drivers, and only supervisors will be allowed to override computer systems. Formal training, background checks, and oversight systems will be required for all test examiners.

Eight years remains the maximum period for an initial and a renewed CDL, subject to states’ adjustments.

You can review all 191 pages of the rule on the FMCSA website.

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