CDL Testing

CDL Testing Rule Change Denied: Florida Proposal Falls Short

In December 2023, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) asked for a change in the CDL testing process. Normally, to get a CDL, testers have to pass three tests in a specific order: first, a check of the vehicle (pre-trip inspection), then a test of driving skills in a controlled area (basic vehicle control), and finally, driving on actual roads (on-road skills).

Florida suggested letting testers decide if a CDL candidate could continue with the next part of the test even if they failed an earlier part. They also wanted to let testers come back later to only retake the parts they failed. This idea was meant to make the testing process quicker and less of a hassle for applicants.

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FMSCA’s Decision to Say “No”

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which oversees these rules, didn’t agree with Florida’s idea. On April 18th, they announced they would not allow the changes. They had asked the public for comments, and many shared their opinions. In the end, the FMCSA said there wasn’t enough evidence that this new method would keep things as safe as they are now.

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Why Some Agree with the Denial

Many who didn’t like the idea, such as the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators,  said the current test order is important for safety. They believe that if someone can’t pass the vehicle check, they should not move on to driving tests. Veteran CDL holders argued that knowing that the vehicle is safe to drive is crucial. They worry that changing the test could lead to more accidents because drivers might not be fully prepared.

Why Some Supported the Change in CDL Testing

However, some groups like the National Tank Truck Carriers and the Commercial Vehicle Training Association did support Florida’s request. They said it would help get more drivers licensed faster, which they believe is necessary due to a shortage of commercial drivers. They argued that this change would help fill more driving jobs quickly, helping the economy.

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What This Decision Means

The FMCSA’s decision shows they are careful about keeping the roads safe. They believe that the way CDL testing is done now is the best way to make sure drivers know what they are doing. However, this decision doesn’t end the discussion. Some claim there are still big needs in the trucking industry, like getting enough drivers. So, the conversation about how to train and test new drivers is likely to keep going.

The Bigger Picture

Even though some say there are not enough drivers, others point out that the real issue might be too many drivers and not enough goods to carry. This means the industry has other big problems to solve, not just how many drivers are available.

The FMCSA sticking to the current CDL testing rules highlights their focus on safety over speed in training drivers. It’s a reminder that, in trucking, being thorough and careful is key, even if it takes longer to get new drivers on the road. This decision affects everyone on the road, from daily commuters to long-haul truckers, and aims to keep all drivers safe.

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