Rule change eases process for drivers upgrading from Class B to Class A CDL

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Updated May 31, 2023

It will soon be easier for Class B commercial driver’s license holders to upgrade to a Class A CDL. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration on Wednesday published a final rule that updates the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Entry-Level Driver Training regulations.

The original rule, published in December 2016, required the same classroom instruction for first-time CDL applicants and for Class B CDL holders upgrading to a Class A CDL. FMCSA is now amending that rule, determining that “because Class B CDL holders have prior training or experience, they are not required to receive the same level of theory training as individuals who have never held a CDL.” The rule does not change any of the behind-the-wheel training requirements in the driver training rule.

The new rulemaking adds an optional theory instruction upgrade curriculum for those upgrading from a Class B to a Class A that removes eight instructional units involving “non-driving activities.” Class B CDL holders will still have the option to complete the full Class A theory instruction curriculum, which includes the eight “non-driving activities” units, if they so choose.

The 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.

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