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FMCSA Entry-Level Driver Training – Feb 7, 2020

by Brad Bockey
Background: In 2016, the FMCSA established the Entry Level Driver Training Rule (ELDT). The purpose of the rule is to set minimum training standards that all drivers seeking a Class A or B CDL and certain endorsements that include the Haz Mat endorsement, must be instructed in. All training providers, including carriers wishing to accomplish their own training must be registered in the Training Provider Registry.

ELDT Rule - Overview
The ELDT Rule can be reviewed at https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/registration/commercial-drivers-license/eldt in its entirety by clicking on the Final Rule related links on the web page. The rule sets minimum training standards for certain individuals seeking a Class A or B CDL for the first time, upgrading a CDL, and in our industry seeking an HM endorsement. The standards prescribe theory (classroom) and behind-the-wheel (BTW), both range and public highway, instruction. The rule incorporates performance-based concepts by requiring that driver-trainees demonstrate proficiency in both portions of instruction.
Historically, most blasting companies have trained their own employees who are interested in becoming CDL drivers. The training was usually accomplished in an informal format shadowing an existing driver, and had the potential for a high failure rate. Some companies that have a more formal approach may elect to continue training their own drivers in the future. Those carriers will need to review the regulation and its requirements, design a curricula that meets the minimum requirements, and then register and self-certify on FMCSA's Training Provider Registry (TPR) prior to conducting future training on and after Feb 7, 2020. Accreditation is not required, and there are no minimum time requirements specified for either the classroom or BTW portions of the training.
Not all companies will want to take on this responsibility. Both carriers and employees interested in seeking a CDL on and after Feb 7, 2020 must verify that their training provider is listed on the TPR website that has yet to be made available online at the writing of this article. An update will follow when they go live with the TPR.
Effects on Future Drivers in the Explosives Industry
Class A & B CDL Driver Trainees
If you apply for Commercial Learner's Permit (CLP) on and after Feb 7, 2020, you will need to follow the ELDT Rule requirements. You will need to verify that either your company or other training provider is listed on the TPR website and complete the training requirements with at least an 80% proficiency prior to taking your final skills test at your state licensing facility (MVA, DMV, etc.).
Class C Driver Trainees and Those Seeking Tank Endorsements
Some good news here for those that do not like change. The ELDT rule imposes no training requirements for Class C driver applicants or anyone seeking to add the Tank endorsement. But, there is a training requirement that does affect all CDL classes. So please read on.
Haz Mat Endorsement
All classes of CDL holders/applicants (A, B, or C) wishing to add a new Haz Mat endorsement will be required to receive training from a TPR on and after Feb 7, 2020. You will need to verify that either your company or other training provider is listed on the TPR website and complete the training requirements with at least an 80% proficiency prior to taking your final test at your state licensing facility (MVA, DMV, etc.).
IMPORTANT NOTE: It is time to think ahead if you want to avoid seeking formal training outside of your company, or if as a company, want to train an employee before the ELDT requirements go into effect. Apply for your CLP prior to Feb 7, 2020. Even though you are in training, the CLP application date is the deciding factor on whether you fall under the ELDT Rule requirements. Just make sure you pass your required written test and have your CLP issued before the Feb 7, 2020 effective date. The same goes for the Haz Mat endorsement. But remember, if you are applying for a HazMat endorsement you must allow time for your fingerprinting and background check to be completed prior to taking your test for the endorsement.