Utah, New Mexico bills would change CDL testing rules

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 1/6/2014

Officials in two Western states could take up for consideration in the months ahead changes to commercial driver’s license testing.

A Utah bill would do away with the practice of issuing a temporary CDL to prospective truckers enrolled in a CDL driver training school in the state. The option would be removed after June 2015.

According to state estimates, the change would affect about 3,400 people each year.

Starting July 1, 2015, prospective truckers in Utah must hold a commercial driver instruction permit for at least 14 days before taking the skills tests. The requirement would also apply to someone who is upgrading a CDL class or endorsement requiring a skills test.

Sponsored by Sen. Kevin Van Tassell, R-Vernal, the bill would also prohibit CDLs from being issued to people under 18 years of age at the time of application. Affected applicants would be required to be at least 18 years old to apply for a commercial driver instruction permit.

The bill – SB30 – awaits assignment to committee for the regular session that begins Jan. 27.

In neighboring New Mexico, another bill covers retesting of the state’s CDL exam.

HB48 specifies that applicants can retake the knowledge portion of the test twice per week. State law now limits applicants to three exams per year.

The skills test would continue to be offered up to three times annually.

In addition, a CDL applicant who failed the skills test or knowledge test five times would be required to complete a state-recognized commercial driver training program.

The bill can be discussed by lawmakers during the session that begins Jan. 21. The Senate version, SB41, also awaits consideration.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association says the biggest safety gap in the trucking industry is the lack of basic training standards for new drivers.

OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer said that current safety regulations do not include training requirements for becoming a long-haul trucker, despite a congressional requirement for such standards. While new drivers must pass a CDL test, testing covers only basic operations and does not address the many on-the-road demands faced by truckers or the hundreds of regulations they are responsible for following.

“Better trained drivers mean safer drivers,” Spencer said.

The Association recently launched a campaign to address the issue. For more details, click here.

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