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Graduated Licensing Q & A

Question: Seems like I saw something in the provisions of the new highway bill that mentioned studies concerning a graduated CDL. What is a graduated CDL and how will it affect me?

Answer: Well, most of us are familiar with graduated drivers licenses from our high school days. Our learner’s permits proved we knew the traffic laws, but restricted our driving by requiring that we be accompanied by a fully licensed adult, like a parent or driving instructor. However, because of the high percentage of accidents caused by drivers below the age of eighteen, we are seeing more and more states moving towards a graduated license system that contains more steps in it.

Since many teenage crashes take place at night, some states limit young drivers to daytime driving. Because a car full of kids can lead to showing off or at best distracted driving, some states are requiring a licensed adult be present for a young driver to carry passengers.

In essence, what some states are doing is adding an additional step between the learner’s permit and full driving privileges, which will let the young driver get some maturity and experience behind the wheel before taking on some of the more demanding aspects of driving.

Well, like it or not, the statistics for truck wrecks are similar to those of car collisions. Recent CDL recipients account for more than their fair share of the accidents out there.

The recent highway spending reauthorization act included wording that would allow the FHWA to conduct studies to discover how best to stage the CDL to reduce the number of wrecks in which new drivers are involved. All of us have seen or experienced the problems faced by young drivers that might have been avoided by a more gradual immersion into full-time driving. Possible CDL restrictions might be day-time, clear weather, local delivery, straight truck before combination truck, or open road and non-rush hour urban driving. After gaining driving experience in environments that statistically have less collisions, the new driver would advance to a full unrestricted CDL. In all likelihood, any new program would apply to new applicants and present CDL holders would be grandfathered in.

As a preliminary step in this study of graduated CDLs, the OOIDA board of directors will participate this October in a focus group for researchers seeking industry input prior to developing a survey questionnaire which will provide feedback to the FHWA about how the trucking industry feels about this issue. You can also look for a Your Voice on the topic in the near future. LL