California advances bill to establish minimum training standards for CDL students

California lawmakers have pushed forward a bill that would implement a federal rule establishing new training standards for entry-level CDL drivers.

The bill, SB 1236“would require the [Department of Motor Vehicles], no later than June 5, 2020, to adopt regulations related to entry-level driver training requirements for drivers of commercial motor vehicles including specified minimum hours of behind-the-wheel training and in compliance with the requirements of specified federal regulations.” The bill also addresses minimum behind-the-wheel training standards for entry-level CDL holders. The legislation would “require an applicant for a class A or B commercial driver’s license to complete a minimum of 15 hours of behind-the-wheel training, at least ten hours of which shall be on a public road.” The language of the legislation allows 50 minutes of driving to be considered an hour behind the wheel.

Drivers would be required to complete the training with either a certified commercial vehicle instruction training program or from a certified employer before receiving their CDL. An earlier version of the bill was initially introduced on January 9, 2017, by Sen. Bill Monning but it never advanced to a floor vote. Monning reintroduced the bill on February 15 of 2018 and it has advanced to a final reading on the California’s Assembly chamber floor, after which it is eligible for a vote. When the FMCSA passed its own Final Rule establishing minimum training standards for entry-level CDL drivers in December of 2016, it did not establish a minimum number of hours for behind-the-wheel training. Rather, it would “would be required to demonstrate proficiency in knowledge training and behind-the-wheel training on a driving range and on a public road, with training obtained from an instructional program that meets FMCSA standards.” Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has come out in support of the legislation.

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