Addressing the New Rules for New Drivers

new drivers

A new set of standards established by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration went into effect on February 7th, 2022. When the changes were announced in 2021, many trucking companies were understandably anxious about the impact on their business. It’s become increasingly clear, though, that these changes will have a minimal impact on trucking regulations. The rules are primarily targeted at standardizing the training requirements for new CDL applicants and alleviating some of the standards that might be contributing to the nationwide shortage of truckers. Read on if you’re wondering what new truck drivers need to know about new entry-level truck driver training requirements.

Verifying New Hires’ Training

The first important change enacted by the new standards affects how trucking companies will verify their new hires’ completion of training requirements. On March 4, 2016, FMCSA proposed new standards that would require prospective Class A CDL licensees to complete at least 30 hours of supervised driving within an approved driver training program. Class B applicants would be required to complete 15 hours.

These standards were poised to implement a standard hourly training mandate, but the stipulation was ultimately removed. Since then, there have been many attempts to establish similar rules to require a minimum number of training hours for drivers, but none have passed. The new standards implemented on February 7th once again omitted any requirement for training hours, allowing individual trucking companies to determine their requirements for new hires.

Completion of Theory and Skills Training

With no minimum requirements for behind the wheel training, what standards must new CDL licensees adhere to obtain their license? There is still a set curriculum that must be completed to demonstrate general knowledge and skills competency. This curriculum covers concepts such as the following:

  • Principles of safe driving
  • Ability to stay focused
  • Professionalism
  • Knowledge of mechanics
  • Familiarity with traffic laws

New truck drivers must complete this curriculum at an approved training program prior to applying for their CDL. Theory-only training providers can verify trainees’ completion in the Training Provider Registry. If any behind the wheel instruction was given, this can be registered through the same portal.

CDL License

The aforementioned theory and skills training is the primary change implemented by the FMCSA’s new requirements. Per these standards, as of February 7th, it is now a requirement for all new CDL applicants. This is a major change for applicants due to the limited number of approved training providers. It isn’t a major change for trucking companies, however, because the new standards do not require companies to verify new hires’ completion of the training. This may seem contradictory, but the reasoning is simple. Theory and skills training is a prerequisite of CDL licensure, so trucking companies only need to verify that a candidate is indeed licensed. Licensure is deemed sufficient evidence of a truckers’ training completion.

Who Is Affected by the New Standards?

The new standards have a major impact on some sectors of the trucking industry, but for many others, the effect is negligible.

First-Time CDL Licensees

The new FMCSA standards are primarily intended to regulate first-time CDL applicants. Standards for licensure were previously determined by individual states which led to substantial disparities between different states’ requirements. New CDL applicants will now have the advantage of a single, standardized set of criteria that applies to all new truck drivers regardless of where they may be located.

CDL License Upgrade Applicants

Another group of truck drivers who will be affected by the change includes those who are seeking an upgraded endorsement on their license. Those who already possess a Class B CDL but want to upgrade to a Class A CDL must satisfy the new requirements outlined by FMCSA. Class B drivers are typically licensed to operate dump trucks, tow trucks, buses, and utility vehicles. Class A drivers can operate tractor-trailers. To qualify for an upgrade, the driver may enroll in an approved training program and pass the theory and skills examination.

What Will Change for Trucking Companies?

Trucking companies must comply with these new standards, too — but there aren’t many major adjustments required for businesses to do so. Still, it’s important for companies to assess their practices and ensure that they are compliant. Failure to comply can be a major liability that affects your truck insurance. Truck insurance is vital for protecting your company against the exposures that often accompany major industry changes.

New National Standard

The biggest change, of course, is the establishment of a new national standard that all trucking companies must abide by. While interstate trucking operations were previously forced to juggle multiple licensure requirements, the new regulations may help to simplify matters. Rather than maintain different requirements in each state, these companies can hold all driver applicants to the same established standard. Companies can also register as an approved training provider to offer theory and skills training to prospective truckers.

New Standards for Recruiting

Trucking companies should also consider how these changes impact their recruiting efforts. While many businesses are still grappling with a shortage of drivers, the new standards may offer an antidote. Aspiring truck drivers no longer have to navigate complex requirements that vary from state to state. They can refer to a single set of requirements in order to gain their CDL and pursue a career as a trucker. This is a valuable point for recruiters to emphasize when seeking out new drivers to hire.

About Western Truck Insurance Services

Western Truck Insurance Services is a commercial truck insurance agency with roots dating back to 1954. We have evolved into a highly respected, professionally managed, truck and transportation insurance brokerage. The hallmark of our organization is our desire to provide unparalleled service. We go way beyond what you expect to receive from an insurance brokerage. Equipped with state of the art automation, Western Truck Insurance can provide you with lightning fast truck insurance quotes, customer service, Insurance certificates, and coverage changes. Contact us today at (800) 937-8785 to learn more!