- The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) proposed a new rule this week that would allow applicants to take commercial driver's license (CDL) knowledge tests outside their state of residence, reversing current rules requiring drivers to be licensed in their home state. The goal of the proposed rule change is to reduce the time and travel barriers applicants can encounter when applying for a license, thereby getting more drivers on the road and addressing the current shortage in the industry.
- According to the FMSCA's proposal, not all states would be required to offer the test to out-of state applicants, though if they do, the results will be transmitted to the driver's state of domicile and that state would be required to accept the results as valid. The new rule would not affect the content or standards of the test, ensuring consistent safety standards remain in place.
- The announcement comes among broader efforts by the agency this year to reduce regulatory barriers for aspiring commercial drivers. A final rule, authored in March, was released that streamlined and reduced the cost of upgrading from a Class B to a Class A CDL, saving "eligible driver trainees and motor carriers $18 million annually," according to a press release emailed to Supply Chain Dive.
"With the American economy continuing to grow at record pace, the need for more commercial drivers is critical. This proposal offers commonsense regulatory changes that will help CDL applicants, without compromising safety," FMCSA Administrator Raymond P. Martinez said in the release.
Currently, CDLs are conferred in compliance with the "domicile rule" requiring drivers to be certified in their state of residence. According the FMCSA proposal, this is based on a "one driver/one license/one record principle" that would prevent drivers from getting multiple and/or out of state licenses to mask traffic violations.
However, based on the electronic systems for transmitting driver test results (in place since 2011), the agency believes an applicant's home state and the state where they took the test can exchange data that would verify a driver's record and prevent such instances from occurring. When taking the CDL exam outside their home state, driver's must verify their state of residence.
Now that the proposal has been released it remains open for a 60-day open comment period on the Federal Register.