For the past five years, the American Transportation Research Institute has listed delays in testing and licensing as the number one issue facing the industry. In an attempt to streamline these processes and combat the growing truck driver shortage, a new bill has been presented to Congress.
The Licensing Individual Commercial Exam-takers Now Safely and Efficiently Act, or LICENSE Act, would allow state driver licensing agencies to use third-party testers to administer a CDL knowledge test, in addition to the skills test. The bill would also allow states to administer driving skills tests to out-of-state applicants regardless of where they received their training.
Another proposal in the bill would allow commercial learners permit holders who have passed the CDL skills test, but not yet received their physical credentials, to drive with a CDL holder in the truck, which we covered in greater detail in an earlier blog.
According to a recent article in Transport Topics, the LICENSE Act has the support of several industry agencies, including the American Trucking Association (ATA). ATA President Chris Spear stated, “By making common-sense changes to the CDL testing process and eliminating redundant background checks, we can cut red tape so these hard working men and women can get on the road navigating our nation’s highways instead of navigating its bureaucracies.”
Additionally, Bailey Wood, president of the Commercial Vehicle Training Association, said allowing third-party testers to administer knowledge tests would help deal with the current backlog of drivers awaiting credentialing. “We’re going to be encouraging states to adopt third-party knowledge test administration. The new guidance allows one-stop shopping for students, letting them get knowledge and skills testing at the same location,” said Wood.
From a safety perspective, these new proposals are being considered in the context of state and federal regulations. Third-party testers are still subject to oversight by state and federal regulators to ensure compliance with federal requirements. Testers also are subject to background checks.
The LICENSE Act has been referred to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure for further review. NBIS will keep you updated on the progress of this bill as it moves through Congress.