Going into the New Year, you should be aware of the new rule from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) that gives all states permission to extend the length of time for Commercial Learner’s Permits (CLPs). First proposed by the FMCSA in June 2017, this new law in now in effect.
Previously, states issued CLPs that were valid for six months. Now with this new FMCSA rule, individual states may extend the CLP period to one year if they choose. Each state may also allow trainees to renew their CLP for another six months after the initial one year expiration date. However, if a driver trainee fails to obtain their CDL license before their CLP expires, he or she would need to reapply for their permit. And with any new law, there are bound to be pros and cons associated with it to consider.
Helps Fight Truck Driver Shortage
Part of the reason why the FMCSA proposed this new rule was to help fight the truck driver shortage that currently exists and is expected to grow. It would give trainees an opportunity to hone their driving skills before having to take the CDL licensing test. It is expected that the amount of paperwork associated with trainees having to reapply for CLPs will be reduced if the initial CLP period were to be extended to one year. This would also reduce the hassle and cost for CDL applicants. Having a longer training period could help make the roads safer and trainees will have more time to train instead of rushing to take the test before their CLP expires.
Worries that Carriers Will Take Advantage of New Rule
One of the greatest concerns that the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) has brought up over this new rule is carriers could take advantage of it and profit from it. Instead of trainees having to take the CDL test within six months, carriers could keep trainees on the job for a longer amount of time. And they could continue to pay them less than licensed truck drivers who have their full CDL.
Remember, this new FMCSA learner permit extension is optional. Each state will need to decide whether it will adopt the changes as allowed through the new rule.