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FMCSA Proposes New Rules That May Reduce Driver Shortage

Consumers in America have grown accustomed to obtaining goods in a quick, easy, efficient manner. We hop on the laptop, click a few keys, and in a couple of days, our products arrive safely on our doorsteps. The trucking industry plays a key role in this process--in fact, the trucking industry is the heart of our economy. Not only are truckers delivering our packages to our homes, they are also keeping our stores stocked with food, clothing, toys, and a whole bunch of goods we have come to rely on for a comfortable life. 

Unfortunately, the trucking industry continues to face a shortage of drivers. Leading companies in the industry agree that this shortage is their greatest crisis, and recruiting new talent is imperative. According to the ATA (American Trucking Associations) the industry needs to recruit 96,000 new drivers each year for the next 10 years to keep up with the trucking demand created by consumers. Recognizing the severity of this issue, the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) has proposed two new rules that they hope will increase the efficiency of the CDL licensing process. 

The FMCSA expects these two rules to help both the states and individual applicants by easing costs and saving time, thereby making the entire process more appealing to potential drivers. The first proposal, Military Licensing and State CDL Reciprocity, would make it easier for experienced military personnel to obtain a civilian CDL. Since 2012, over 18,800 individuals have moved from active military to civilian driver jobs. The second proposal, Commercial Learner's Permit Validity, would extend the current six-month limitation on CDL learner's permits to one year. This would eliminate fees that individuals currently have to pay for an extension past the initial six months, along with extra paperwork on the state's behalf. 

The FMCSA is seeking public comment regarding these new rules. The commenting period is open for 60 days after the date of publication in the Federal Register. In addition to making the CDL licensing system more efficient and attracting new drivers, the FMCSA also hopes that the rules will help many individuals with a military CDL begin stable, lucrative civilian careers.