New bus operator CDL and CLP rules finalized

May 11, 2011

WASHINGTON — The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has published a final rule — effective for drivers in 60 days — amending the commercial driver’s license (CDL) knowledge and skills testing standards, and establishing new minimum federal standards for states to issue the commercial learner’s permit (CLP).

The final rule requires that a CLP holder meet virtually the same requirements as those for a CDL holder, meaning that a driver holding a CLP will be subject to the same driver disqualification penalties that apply to a CDL holder.

The final rule requires:

  • Successful completion of the knowledge test — currently a prerequisite for the CDL — prior to issuance of a CLP.
  • States to use FMCSA pre-approved driver and examiner reference materials, state testing questions and exercises, and state testing methodologies.
  • A prohibition on the use of foreign language interpreters in the administration of the knowledge and skills tests to reduce the potential for fraud.
  • Each driver applicant obtain a CLP and hold it for a minimum of 14 days before applying for a CDL.
  • A minimum age of 18 for issuance of a CLP.
  • The CLP be a separate document from the CDL, and that it be tamperproof and include the same information as the CDL.
  • Bus operator CLP endorsements be limited to a restricted passenger endorsement and/or a school bus endorsement. Also, states must use standardized endorsement and restriction codes on CDLs.
  • That states, prior to issuing a CLP, perform a check of the driver’s previous driving record to ensure the driver is not subject to the sanctions based on previous motor vehicle violations. If the state discovers the driver is subject to such sanctions, it must refuse to issue a CLP to the driver.
  • States verify the applicant’s Social Security number with the Social Security Administration.
  • Limited initial and renewal periods for CLPs and CDLs.
  • Motor carriers to prohibit using a driver who does not hold a current and appropriate CLP or CDL.

Click here to read the final rule published by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.