Entry-Level Driver Training: 10 Things You Need to Know
Soon, a new rule will go into effect to improve entry-level driver training (ELDT). Here are the things you should know about this program so that you do not get blindsided by changes happening in the trucking industry.
1. It parallels obtaining a standard driver’s license.
Like obtaining a normal driver’s license for a 4-wheeler, the new ELDT program will require theory examination and a behind-the-wheel examination. To pass theory, a fledging driver must score 80% or more on the test. For practical, the training provider has to mark performance as satisfactory.
2. Theory can be done online.
In the 21st century and no doubt in part thanks to coronavirus, online business dealings are the norm. You can study for and fulfill the test online. Technology has not advanced sufficiently for behind-the-wheel to be online, however.
3. Training Provider Registry.
If the organization is not on the FMCSA’s Training Provider Registry, it may not be eligible to fulfill this training. At the time of writing the webpage is still in production but should be operational by the time the rule goes into effect.
4. It may make CDL holders more competitive.
Motor carriers who only hire people who have CDLs will not need to provide any instances of ELDT, so while this new rule may make it harder for new drivers to get into the industry, they will find it easier to become employed once they get it. After all, why spend the time and money training a new driver when you can hire someone with a CDL and cut through the red tape?
5. Prepackaged theory courses.
Much like 4-wheeler training, prepackaged courses are an option that entities on the Training Provider Registry (TRP) can exercise. For motor carriers, this could mean holding many copies of the course for future hires, saving money by purchasing in bulk.
6. Theory and BTW are independent.
A learning driver can take the two tests in either order and even from different providers, given that both are on the TRP.
7. It is not just for newbies.
If you have been driving with a Class B CDL for 20 years and decide to upgrade to Class A, you will need to do the training. This also applies to those hoping to add endorsements to their CDL for passenger, hazmat, and school bus.
8. It may not apply to you.
Provided you currently have a CDL and it expires while in good standing, its renewal will not require ELDT. It makes sense that a trucker with a Class A CDL who has driven over a million miles would not need to take basic-level training.
9. CLP holders will be grandfathered, but not forever.
New drivers that have begun training with a commercial learner’s permit (CLP) will not need to start again from square one, provided that the driver gets his or her CDL before that CLP expires. Trainees who linger may find themselves at the start of training once again.
10. The rule goes into effect February 7th.
February 7th is crunch time; if you do not have the CDL or CLP you need on that date, prepare to practice for the twin examinations.
Much like the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse, this rule will make it harder for new drivers to enter the industry, but will make the roadways safer for everyone. Is implementing these new rules during a historical supply chain shortage the best idea? We abstain from commenting.
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