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Change In ELDT Rules For The Drivers Training Program – Matrack Insight

In the world of transportation, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has its mission to prevent and reduce motor vehicle-related injuries and fatalities. In their continued efforts to ensure a high safety standard, FMCSA has recently implemented changes to the Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT) rule. The FMCSA, a U.S. Department of Transportation division, oversees the commercial trucking sector. The ELDT rule is now live, and these changes are designed to better equip new commercial drivers with adequate training to operate their vehicles safely and responsibly.

As a trucking company owner or operator, staying up-to-date with these changes can help your drivers reach their full potential and remain competitive in the fast-paced trucking world. We will take a closer look at the latest ELDT rule changes and explore how you can benefit from these changes in your driver’s training and onboarding program. 

Overview of ELDT Rule Changes

Despite the shifting driver pool demographics and the trucking industry’s struggle with high turnover, the FMCSA has finally gone live with the updated regulation for Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT). The final rule has been in development for three decades and is supported by thorough industry research. The Entry-Level Driver Training Advisory Committee (ELDTAC), a rulemaking body, provided consensus recommendations that served as the foundation for the ELDT rule, according to the FMCSA.

The ELDT rule was publicized in late 2016, and the deadline for compliance was postponed from February 7, 2020, to February 7, 2022, to provide state licensing authorities time to prepare their technology and infrastructure. ELDT is a set of educational and training prerequisites that entry-level drivers must satisfy before qualifying to take particular Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) skills or knowledge tests.

What Are ELDT Training Requirements?

As of February 7, 2022, the federal government has raised the bar for entry-level driver training. All new commercial truck and bus drivers must complete an ELDT program that meets the new federal standards.

The Commercial Vehicle Training Association lists the minimum standards for entry-level driver training that each driver’s licensing authority must follow:

  • Driver-Trainees
  • Driver-trainees will follow a three-part program that consists of theory (classroom), behind-the-wheel (range), and behind-the-wheel (road).
  • The total number of subjects the program covers is around 30, and students are expected to demonstrate proficiency in each.

Before qualifying for the CDL exam, a driver-trainee must receive an overall score of at least 80% on the written or electronic theory curriculum exam to demonstrate competency.

  • Training Providers and Programs

Trucking companies must engage with training providers. The minimum standards and requirements for training provider schools will be set at a federal level instead of being set by each state.

Training providers must:

  • Apply and be endorsed by the FMCSA.
  • Be listed on the FMCSA’s Training Provider Registry (TPR).
  • Certify their pupils as proficient in the skills curriculum based on their performance before taking the CDL exam.
  • Employ qualified instructors with two years of classroom or professional experience.
  • State on the student’s certificate how many practical hours the student completed, although there is no federal requirement for the minimum number of BTW training hours.
  • Ensure that the State Driver License Authorities (SDLAs) upgrade data systems to enable the recording of behind-the-wheel curriculum hours completed by each CDL applicant.
  • Cover at least 30 hours of behind-the-wheel instruction for students, with at least 10 of those hours spent on a driving range and at least 10 hours on a public road.
  • The new federal standards also require a third-party organization to accredit all ELDT programs.

This accreditation process will help to ensure that all programs meet the same high standards.

Who Do The Changes Apply To?

  1. The ELDT rule only establishes training requirements for those aiming to : 
  • Obtain a new Class A or Class B CDL.
  • Convert an existing Class B CDL to a Class A CDL.
  • Get a school bus (S), passenger (P), or hazardous materials (H) category endorsement for the first time.
  1. The ELDT regulations are not backdated. Drivers who received a CDL or an S, P, or H endorsement before the compliance date are exempt from the mandatory training.
  2. Individuals who were issued a Commercial Learners Permit (CLP) or a CDL before February 7, 2022, are not required to complete ELDT training.
  3. The ELDT requirements do not apply to anyone who qualifies for one of the exemptions from taking a skills exam in 49 CFR Part 383.
  4. A driver’s licensing authority is allowed additional training requirements that exceed the federal requirements. A driver’s licensing administration may schedule a CDL skills test before the driver has completed the training or require training before scheduling a skills test. However, a driver’s licensing officer may only administer the skills or knowledge test once the driver completes the relevant training for the CDL or endorsement.

The ELDT Rule changes will help ensure that your carrier’s driver training program effectively prepares newly licensed drivers for the demands of safely operating a CMV. For more information on the ELDT Rule changes and any exceptions, please visit the FMCSA website.

How Will This Impact Entry-Level Drivers?

Entry-level drivers must invest more time and money into getting their licenses. They will need to engage in a certified training program that meets their needs and budget and then complete the program before they can take their driving test. 

Secondly, they may have to wait longer to get their license. With more drivers completing certified training programs, there may be more demand for appointments at DMV offices or testing centers. This could mean new drivers must wait longer to schedule their driving test or get their license.

Overall, the new requirement for entry-level driver training will impact new drivers in several ways. They need to be aware of these changes to plan accordingly and ensure they are prepared when the time comes to get their license. The FMCSA Training Provider Registry will record every entry-level driver who completes an approved program.

Benefits Of The Rule Change For Entry-level Drivers

The federal government’s recent rule change regarding entry-level driver training is a positive development for new drivers and the trucking industry. The new rule requires all entry-level drivers to complete at least 30 hours of classroom training and behind-the-wheel instruction before being eligible for a commercial driver’s license (CDL). This is a significant increase from the minimum of 10 hours of classroom training and 20 hours of on-the-job experience. 

The new rule aims to improve safety and compliance in the new driver training program by:

  • The FMCSA can establish consistent, uniform regulation by requiring training at a certain level. By outlining what each CDL training student must know and remember before starting a career as a professional truck driver, the ELDT Mandate will result in safer roads.
  • Minimizing the regulatory burdens placed on CDL applicants and their employers while maintaining the highest safety level.
  • Requiring all commercial learner’s permit (CLP) holders to receive hands-on training from a certified instructor before operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV)
  • The minimum amount of behind-the-wheel training required for all newly licensed CMV drivers
  • Requiring all newly licensed CMV drivers to complete an additional skill test with a certified instructor before operating a CMV without supervision.

The FMCSA predicts that this rule will assist over 11,000 driver-trainees each year and that they will spend 27 hours less on their theory training overall. This saves these driver-trainees and their employers significant time and money.

The new ELDT rule is just one of many ways the Federal government is working to improve road safety. The increased training requirements will help ensure new drivers are better prepared to operate a commercial vehicle safely. In addition, the rule change will help improve the trucking industry’s image, which has been plagued by high rates of accidents and fatalities in past years. By raising the bar for entry-level driver training, the federal government is taking a step in the right direction, and U.S. roadways will be safer.

How Can Employers Comply With The Rule Change?

Many fleet operators are scrambling to comply with a driver-training regulation because it establishes a prerequisite for the education of beginning truck drivers. 

Now that the deadline has passed, drivers and employers who missed the deadline will need to plan how to obtain a trainer the federal government has approved:

  • Regardless of whether they are new to the industry (holding Class A or B CDLs), seeking endorsements (such as hazardous materials or passenger), or seasoned drivers looking to upgrade their CDLs, anyone training drivers are required by law to meet minimum training standards and receive that training from a registered institution.
  • To be certified, Before taking the CDL knowledge test for a hazardous endorsement or the CDL skills test, drivers must complete their training from a facility (including carriers) listed on the FMCSA’s Training Provider Registry (TPR). The TPR will include a list of all accredited trainers for ELDT. 
  • The FMCSA has also offered information on how to qualify for and register an instructor with the registry for firms desiring to operate an in-house training program. 

Resources That Aid In Familiarise ELDT Rule Change

  • Training Provider Register (TPR): The FMCSA developed and owns the TPR system. The FMCSA adds ELDT-compliant institutions to the TPR, and only training providers listed on the TPR can provide ELDT. Training providers, in turn, send TPR-required driver applicants ELDT completion data.
  • Commercial Vehicle Training Association (CVTA): The ELDT Mandate has received strong support from the Commercial Vehicle Training Association (CVTA), the most prominent association of commercial training programs in the United States, on behalf of all of its members. CVTA has a compliance program for members. 
  • Licensing Authorities changes: Effective March 22, 2022, the FMCSA changed wording that concerns driver license issuing entities. “State” was replaced with “driver’s licensing authority.” This provides more clarity and uniformity about the issuing authority.

Conclusion

The trucking business is dedicated to improving security. According to a report by American Trucking Association (ATA), The trucking sector spends at least $10 billion on safety annually. These expenditures cover investment in safety technologies, safety incentive payments, and compliance with safety laws. These amended regulations from FMCSA compare favorably with and will be embraced by the industry. And while this change in licensing criteria will only partially disrupt the business, it does restrict how new applicants can get their CDL.

Trucking companies must consider what these changes mean to their service and drivers. Updating the driver training or onboarding program may be a good idea. The trucking sector benefits in some way from each of these developments, whether by making it simpler to understand or by making it easier to comply with rules. 

Despite a recent drop in fatal accidents in the United States, more than 36,000 people perish on the nation’s roads yearly. Apart from drunk driving, other significant contributors to auto-related fatalities still include distracted driving and speeding. So training safe and defensive drivers for the trucking industry remains a priority for everyone in the business. 

The FMCSA’s annual report Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts (LTBCF), provides statistics on large truck and bus crashes that only resulted in fatalities, injuries, and property damage. Since the Federal regulation of the trucking industry, the quantity and frequency of deadly truck accidents have sharply decreased.

Between 2019 and 2020:

  • The number of deadly collisions involving large trucks fell by 4%, from 5,033 to 4,842, and 
  • The rate of fatal crashes involving large trucks also fell by 4%, from 1.68 to 1.60 per 100 million miles driven by large vehicles.
  • The number of heavy trucks in injury crashes also reduced by 10%  from 119,000 to 107,000.
  • The number of heavy trucks involved in crashes involving just property damage decreased by 21 percent, from 414,000 to 327,000.

Although there may be a significant increase in cost to both the trainee driver and owner-operators in ensuring compliance, this amount is far lesser compared to a steep price in case of an unfortunate accident. In addition to their injuries and suffering, victims may incur exorbitant medical bills, lost earnings, and other recovery-related expenses. These procedures help owner-operators maintain continuity and reduce risk.

Apart from fulfilling the FMCSA’s curriculum requirements, applying stringent ELDT final rules will significantly promote safety in the workplace for everyone on the road because the curriculum and driver skill benchmark far exceed previous regulations.