by Pride Transport | Nov 30, 2023
With more time on the road comes more safety concerns for truck drivers. In February 2022, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) took measures to further promote safety expectations by implementing entry level driver training (ELDT) regulations. This mandate requires prospective drivers (and certain current drivers) to participate in an ELDT program before testing for their CDL. Without the successful completion of entry level driver training from an FMCSA-verified provider, prospective drivers can’t take the skills or knowledge portion of the CDL test — in any state.
While the ELDT mandate mostly affects up-and-coming drivers, current drivers aren’t totally exempt from certain ELDT program components, especially if they’re looking to change things up in their career. We’ll cover which drivers need training, which drivers are exempt, and how to make sure you get the right training from credible resources.
What ELDT Means for New and Seasoned Drivers
After several years of delay, ELDT requirements finally went into full effect on February 7, 2022. As we noted when the mandate became official, the new ELDT training regulations didn’t pertain to those drivers who held valid CDL or passenger (P), school bus (S), or hazardous materials (H) endorsements before February 7. This was also true for applicants who:
- obtain a commercial learner’s permit (CLP) before February 7, 2022.
- obtain a CDL before the CLP or renewed CLP expires.
- meets one of the exceptions for taking a skills test in 49 CFR Part 383.
So, given the length of the list of drivers who don’t need entry level driver training, who does need ELDT?
- Anyone applying for a Class A or Class B CDL for the first time
- Anyone with a current Class B CDL who wants to upgrade to Class A
- Any driver seeking a P, S, or H endorsement for the first time
- Anyone who obtained a CLP on or after February 7, 2022
- Anyone who was issued a CLP prior to February 7, 2022, but the CLP expired before they applied for their CDL
ELDT programs are broken up into two major categories: theory curriculum and behind-the-wheel instruction. Each category covers specific training topics, from basic operation to advanced practices and non-driving activities. Theory curriculum includes the following:
- Basic operation: basic control, pre- and post-trip inspections, backing, and docking
- Safe operating practices: visual search, communication, speed management, and distracted driving
- Advanced operating practices: hazard perception, skid control and recovery, and other emergencies
- Vehicle systems: identification and diagnosis of malfunctions and roadside inspections
- Non-driving activities: handling and documenting cargo, hours of service regulations, medical requirements, trip planning, and post-crash procedures
Behind-the-wheel instruction covers topics in range and public road instruction across a variety of topics. While simulators may be used as part of training, driving simulations alone won’t meet BTW requirements. Actual operation of a CMV is necessary for a driver to meet BTW requirements.
Neither category requires a minimum number of instruction hours. What matters is that drivers are confident in their knowledge of the material and can pass both theory and BTW assessments with a score of at least 80%.
Benefits of Entry Level Driver Training
Some people might have originally seen entry level driver training as an unnecessary—and maybe even a burdensome—step in the CDL process. But the truth is, the ELDT rule comes with a lot of benefits for drivers and driving companies alike.
More drivers than ever now have access to credible (and affordable) training institutions. Drivers aren’t limited to truck-driver training schools that can cost up to thousands of dollars. Drivers can access affordable, accredited training from a multitude of providers that are FMCSA-vetted.
Standardized training requirements help to ensure higher levels of consistently safe driving. Prior to the ELDT mandate, each state set its own minimum requirements for new truck drivers. Now, applicants or those looking to upgrade their license/endorsements are held to a national standard. While 85% of drivers likely already receive training compliant with the new requirements, the ELDT mandate further ensures that every driver meets safety standards.
Getting appropriate training and testing for a CDL is simpler. By accessing the Training Provider Registry, prospective drivers can quickly and easily find a training provider that meets their needs, helping them to begin training more quickly and complete coursework efficiently. And remember: There are no minimum required hours for training or BTW instruction, so drivers can learn the material and test at their own pace.
Getting more people in the transportation industry on the same page allows for better organization, better logistics planning, and faster deliveries. Creating standardized training and requirements for prospective drivers sets the tone for consistency going forward while helping to make sure that the most qualified drivers are operating on the road.
How to Find Certified ELDT Providers
Now that every new driver needs entry level driver training, the FMCSA has made it easier to find credible providers. The Training Provider Registry is the go-to resource for prospective drivers and training providers. New drivers or current drivers seeking new endorsements can check their training needs before choosing a provider. Once drivers have completed and passed their training requirements, providers submit certification directly to the FMCSA via the registry. Records are stored on the registry for easy future access, too.
The registry is a great resource because it not only provides a list of accredited training programs, it also lists providers who have been removed from the registry. This way, drivers are reassured that they’re receiving the right training from verified providers. Prospective drivers who train with unregistered providers aren’t permitted to test for their CDL, so checking the registry is an absolute must.
People interested in a truck driving career can learn even more about ELDT requirements and training opportunities by visiting the Training Provider Registry website. Training providers who aren’t currently registered can do so by visiting the same website.
Drive With Pride
At Pride Transport, we’re serious about keeping our drivers safe, which is why we also take training seriously. We offer a variety of training programs for both newly licensed and seasoned drivers to help them sharpen their skills and brush up on basics. Learn even more about driver benefits, or see if there’s an opportunity for you to drive with Pride.