If you’ve been thinking about getting your commercial driver’s license in 2021, upgrading your CDL or wanting to get a school bus, passenger or hazardous materials endorsement, be aware that CDL requirements in Minnesota changed in 2020. These nationwide amendments took effect February 7, 2020. Read on to learn what’s new and what to expect from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
After the new rules went into effect on February 7, the FMCSA expected that the regulatory burdens on trainees and training facilities would be lessened. In fact, the new rules cut about 27 hours of classroom instruction per applicant.
Another big change is that the new rules set standards at a federal level, rather than state by state. Individual states are welcome to exceed the minimum standards, but those minimum standards now apply to everyone. The rules will be overseen by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). All schools must report their training hours spent behind the wheel directly to the DOT.
Rules for instructors, schools and curricula
Instructors and the training curricula are affected by the new rules, too. If you want to train CDL applicants, you’ll need to have a minimum of two years of driving experience, in addition to medical certification for the classroom, experience with on-the-road and private range instruction and a clean motor vehicle record.
Previously, the DOT required training on four basic knowledge topics. Under the new 2020 rules, there are 31 theory course topics. There are currently 19 behind-the-wheel (BTW) skills to teach, along with the usual vehicle inspection skills. Trainees will be tested at a Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) facility.
If you want to be licensed to train new drivers, you’ll need to apply with the CDL Training Provider Registry. Only registered providers are qualified to teach CDL driving skills, as of February 7, 2020. As long as you receive training from an approved provider, you can get it in any order you like. You may also get BTW and theory training from separate providers on the list. You do need to get your range and public road BTW training from the same provider, however.
Finally, you are allowed to get training from providers outside the state in which you reside or work, since the federal standards create a minimum standard across the nation.
If you already had a CDL and/or a passenger, school bus or hazardous materials endorsement before February 7, 2020, these new requirements will not apply to you. Furthermore, if your state has waived the CDL skills test under 49 CFR 383, you won’t need to worry about that, either.
Ultimately, these new rules are designed to streamline the process of getting a CDL. If you’re thinking about obtaining your own CDL or getting an endorsement, make sure you understand what’s required under the new 2020 CDL requirements in Minnesota.
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