Federal Regulators Deny Florida’s Proposed Changes to CDL Testing Methods

Federal Regulators Deny Florida’s Proposed Changes to CDL Testing Methods

Federal trucking regulators recently rejected a proposal from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles that aimed to modify commercial driver license (CDL) testing procedures. The Florida agency had suggested allowing third-party testers to permit applicants who fail the pre-trip inspection to continue with the rest of the CDL skills test and only retake the failed segment at a later date.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), however, upheld the current testing sequence—pre-trip inspection, vehicle control skills, and on-road skills tests—as crucial for the safety of the CDL applicant, the examiner, and other road users. FMCSA emphasized that this sequence ensures that an applicant possesses the necessary knowledge and skills before progressing to the next test component.

In their April 18 ruling, FMCSA also pointed to the flexibility within current regulations, which generally do not require applicants to retake previously passed test segments. They added that the new federal Entry Level Driver Training requirements should help reduce the number of applicants failing any part of the CDL skills test.

The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, which operates almost exclusively through third-party testers, argued that the exemption would streamline the testing process and enhance the efficiency of their monitoring activities. They noted that third-party testers in Florida conducted over 35,000 CDL skills tests in the past year and identified the pre-trip inspection as the most commonly failed segment.

Despite receiving 30 comments on the proposal—with opinions mixed between opposition, support, and neutrality—FMCSA decided against the exemption. Critics, like Tim Kordula from Three Lakes, Wisconsin, argued that continuing the test after a failed pre-trip inspection contradicts basic safety protocols. On the other hand, supporters like the National Tank Truck Carriers argued that allowing applicants to retake only failed portions could improve the efficiency of the CDL credentialing process and address the commercial driver shortage by lowering barriers to certification.

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