Updated CDL Requirements in 2020: What Does It Mean For New Drivers?

Posted on: February 19th, 2020 10:50 am

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) implemented a new rule that changes the CDL requirements for drivers. The new requirements are especially important for individuals who are new to the road—that is, those wanting to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL).

The rule was originally scheduled to take effect on February 7th, 2020. However, in later January of 2020, the FMCSA extended the compliance date to February 7th, 2020. The updated CDL requirements involve the new Entry-Level Driver Training Rule (ELDT) for entry-level drivers. We’re breaking down the new ELDT rule below to help you understand the key requirements, who it affects, and why the compliance date change.

What are the key CDL requirements for the ELDT rule?

In short, individuals applying for a Class A or Class B CDL must complete driver training from an approved provider listed on FMCSA’s Training Provider Registry prior to taking the CDL skills test. Before taking the CDL skills test, entry-level drivers must receive knowledge training in the following areas:

  1. Driver Qualification Requirements
  2. Hours of Services of Drivers
  3. Driver Wellness
  4. Whistleblower Protection

After completing the above ELDT requirements, driver applicants must pass a knowledge test with a score of at least 80%. Once a driver applicant passes the test, they must receive a training certificate from their training instructor.

Trainees also must demonstrate proficiency in BTW (behind-the-wheel) skills. Although there isn’t a minimum number of hours required for this portion of the training, driver applicants cannot use driving simulators to train. The instructor must perform a first-hand evaluation of the trainee’s BTW range and public road proficiency.

Who does it affect?

The new entry-level driver training rule applies only to individuals that are obtaining their CDL for the first time, or those who are upgrading their current CDL. In addition, it also applies to those wishing to obtain a passenger, school bus, or hazardous materials endorsement.

Drivers who already have a CDL before the compliance date deadline are grandfathered in—they do not have to reapply for a new CDL.

Why was the compliance date extended?

The updated CDL requirements for entry-level driver training originally passed in December of 2016. At this point, the FMCSA believed three years was an adequate amount of time to develop the Training Provider Registry (TPR). However, on January 29, 2020, the FMCSA announced they would be delaying the entire ELDT final rule compliance date by two years. This extension, according to the FMCSA, will provide the necessary time needed to complete development of the TPR. To sum up, the new compliance date for the ELDT rule is February 7th, 2022.


If you’re trying to obtain your CDL for the first-time, or if you meet any of the other criteria that require you to comply with the new CDL requirements, familiarize yourself with the CDL requirements that apply to you. At Forward Air, we’re always on the lookout for great drivers, and the new ELDT ensures our drivers, and CDL drivers everywhere, are hitting the road with more knowledge and more training than before. That translates to safer roads everywhere and for everyone!

To learn how Forward Air provides best-in-class opportunities for our drivers, click here. Also, to contact a recruiter about open driving positions for CDL drivers, click here.

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