FMCSA waives procedures for CDL testing officials

Third-party commercial driver’s license (CDL) test examiners will be temporarily allowed to administer CDL knowledge tests without completing the required training, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

The FMCSA waiver, issued on April 9 and valid until June 30, allows third-party CDL test examiners that are authorized to administer the CDL skills test to also administer the CDL knowledge test without completing a CDL knowledge test training course. The federally required course includes units of instruction covering the CDL licensing system and an overview of CDL testing.

The testing waiver comes days after a coalition of CDL schools, trucking companies, shippers and trade groups pressed government officials for less restrictions on CDL testing as state driver licensing agencies (SDLAs), which conduct knowledge skills exams, have had to close in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Given the public health emergency, there is a public need for immediate transportation of essential supplies, equipment, and persons, which requires an adequate and sustained supply of drivers trained to operate a commercial motor vehicle,” according to the waiver.

“This waiver is in the public interest because it would allow states and SDLAs to use third-party CDL test examiners to continue administering CDL knowledge tests while SDLAs remain closed, are unable to administer CDL knowledge tests, or are operating at a diminished capacity due to the COVID-19 national emergency.”

FMCSA asserted that because the CDL knowledge tests are easier to administer than the skills tests, issuing the temporary waiver will not affect safety levels.

“The knowledge tests require the administration of written multiple-choice tests and approximately four hours of CDL test examiner training,” the waiver states. “In contrast, the CDL skills test examiner has substantial direct involvement in the administration of the tests. The skills tests require the observation and scoring of demonstrated driving maneuvers and several days of examiner training. For these reasons, trained skills test examiners would be capable of administering the knowledge tests without first taking a CDL knowledge test training course.”

While states aren’t required to provide formal training to examiners on how to administer CDL knowledge tests, the waiver requires that they still provide them access to written knowledge-test training/instructional materials, either electronically or through other means.