Florida seeks help for truckers failing pre-trip inspections

WASHINGTON — CDL applicants in Florida may have a faster road to getting a license if testers in the state get an exemption from federal regulators.

Specifically, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) is petitioning the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to allow skills testers — at their discretion — to continue testing a person applying for a CDL who fails the pre-trip inspection or basic vehicle controls segments of the CDL skills test to come back later to retake only the failed segment.

Currently, federal regulations require the three-part CDL skills test — pre-trip inspection, basic vehicle control skills and on-road skills — to be administered and completed in that order. If an applicant fails one part of the test, he or she is not allowed to start the next part of the test but instead must return on a different day to retake all three parts.

In Florida, nearly all CDL skills tests are conducted by third-party testers, FMCSA noted.

“[FLHSMV] cites that the most failed segment of the test is the pre-trip inspection, and if the exemption is granted, the tester could continue to test basic vehicle control skills and on-road skills,” if the tester failed the pre-trip inspection portion, FMCSA stated in an exemption notice posted on Monday. “If the CDL applicant passed these other portions of the test, they could return at a later date and retake just the pre-trip inspection portion of the test.”

In addition to easing testing procedures for entry-level truck drivers, an exemption, if granted, “would allow their compliance staff to better utilize their time and resources in completing the required monitoring of third-party testers,” FLHSMV asserted. “FLHSMV believes the exemption would not compromise safety, because the decision to continue with the test would reside with certified, experienced testers.”

FLHSMV also pointed out that, with implementation of the Federal Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT) regulations in 2022, most applicants being tested “have been certified as proficient in operating commercial motor vehicles, having completed behind-the-wheel training that prepares them to safely operate a commercial motor vehicle during the on-road portion of the CDL skills test.”

The ELDT regulations set minimum training requirements that new prospective truck drivers must complete before being allowed to take certain CDL skills or knowledge tests.

Asked to comment on the exemption request, Andrew Poliakoff, executive director of the Commercial Vehicle Training Association, said his association “is encouraged to see Florida pursuing this opportunity to make skills testing more efficient, and we support other states in seeking similar authority.”

Comments on FLHSMV’s application must be received by Jan. 4. 

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