Rule change would cut redundancies for Class B CDL holders upgrading to Class A

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FMCSA is proposing a change that would eliminate some of the repetitive classroom instruction for drivers upgrading from a Class B CDL to a Class A CDL.FMCSA is proposing a change that would eliminate some of the repetitive classroom instruction for drivers upgrading from a Class B CDL to a Class A CDL.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is proposing a change to its Entry-Level Driver Training rule that would make it easier for drivers to upgrade from a Class B CDL to a Class A CDL.

The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), set to be published in the Federal Register on June 29, would upgrade classroom instruction but would not change the behind-the-wheel requirements for upgrading from a Class B CDL to a Class A CDL. It would also not change the curriculum for individuals obtaining a Class A CDL who do not already hold a Class B.

The proposed rule removes eight instructional units involving “non-driving activities” for those upgrading from a Class B to Class A. It does not set a required minimum number of instruction hours, but the training provider would have to cover all topics in the curriculum, and trainees would have to score at least an 80 percent on the written exam that accompanies the curriculum.

The instructional units cut from the curriculum for those upgrading are: handling and documenting cargo, environmental compliance issues, post-crash procedures, external communications, whistleblower/coercion, trip planning, drugs/alcohol and medical requirements. FMCSA says these units are identical, except for minor editorial differences, to instructional units in the Class B CDL curriculum. The agency is keeping “non-driving” instructional units on hours of service requirements and fatigue and wellness awareness because it says it believes, due to the nature of work for Class B CDL holders, these drivers will benefit from additional training on these topics.

FMCSA estimates an average of 11,340 drivers would be affected by the proposed rule, which would reduce about 27 classroom hours from the license upgrade.

The original driver training rule, finalized by FMCSA on Dec. 7, 2016, with a compliance date of Feb. 7, 2020, required the same amount of classroom training for those upgrading from a Class B to a Class A as for those seeking a Class A without a Class B. FMCSA says in its NPRM that “because Class B CDL holders have prior training or experience in the CMV industry, they should not require the same level of theory training as individuals who have never held a CDL.”

FMCSA is asking for public comment on the proposed rule, including comments on whether additional Class A instructional units should be removed from the proposed upgrade theory curriculum. Comments can be made at www.regulations.gov by searching Docket No. FMCSA-2017-0371 for 60 days after the proposed rulemaking is published in the Federal Register.

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