All states will soon permanently have the option to waive the commercial learner’s permit knowledge test for certain military personnel looking to transition into the trucking industry following their military service.
In a final rule to be published Friday, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration gives state driver licensing agencies the option to waive the test, but it does not require states to do so. The rule implements a requirement from the 2015-enacted FAST Act highway funding bill.
Another rule published in 2016 gave states the option to waive the skills test for transitioning military drivers. When the new final rule goes into effect on Nov. 28, states will have the option to waive both the CDL knowledge and driving skills test for certain current and former military personnel who drove commercial vehicles while serving.
The rule also includes the option to waive the tests required for a passenger carrier endorsement, tank vehicle endorsement or hazardous materials endorsement with proof of training and experience.
Individuals who are, or were, regularly employed within the last year in a military position that requires, or required, driving a commercial vehicle are eligible for the waivers.
The notice of proposed rulemaking for the knowledge test waiver rule did not include the ability to waive endorsement tests, but FMCSA says several Military Occupational Specialties (MOS) include training that corresponds to the knowledge tests for H, N and P endorsements. The agency clarifies that because the rulemaking is voluntary, states may still decide to require all drivers to take endorsement knowledge tests.
FMCSA has been giving states the option to exempt military drivers from the knowledge test since October 2016 through a two-year exemption granted to the Missouri Department of Revenue.
The agency says it does not have data from all states utilizing the exemption, but it says just this year, Illinois has granted more than 75 knowledge test exemptions through the program. FMCSA also says there have been no reports of serious incidents involving these drivers.