What you need to know about the Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT) program

What you need to know about the Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT) program

The driver shortage continues to be a major challenge for fleets across the country. That’s because the industry is estimated to be short of 80,000 drivers, a number that will rise to 160,000 by 2030.

The problem is exacerbated by the aging demographic in the commercial trucking industry. Currently, the median age of commercial truck drivers in the United States is 48 years.

A key recruitment strategy for fleets is to hire younger drivers, and many states now allow 18-year-olds to qualify for a commercial driver’s license (CDL), although they are only allowed to operate a commercial vehicle in their own state. Once drivers turn 21, they are allowed to drive on the Autobahn.

To ensure the safety of new and younger drivers, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires all new drivers to complete the Entry-Level Driving Training (ELDT) program, a national safety standard, before taking the exam for their driver’s license commercial driver’s license (CDL). Many fleet operators are now becoming certified ELDT training centers so they can quickly onboard and train new drivers.

ELDT Program Requirements

The ELDT training requirements for novice drivers relate to uniform safety requirements for the operation of commercial vehicles. This applies to:

  • Entry-level drivers looking to acquire a Class A or B CDL for the first time
  • Drivers looking to upgrade an existing Class B CDL to a Class A CDL
  • Drivers who wish to obtain a school bus (S), passenger (P) or dangerous goods (H) pass for the first time

The rules went into effect for those applying for a Commercial Learning Permit (CLP) on or after February 7, 2022.

The ELDP requirements include both theory and driver training. The curriculum includes:

  • Lectures, demonstrations and computer-based online learning
  • Training on orientation, basic operations, safe operating practices, advanced operations, and non-driver activities such as logging or hauling cargo all in one location
  • A minimum score of 80% in the assessment

For training behind the wheel, this includes:

  • The training takes place in a CMV on a site or a public road
  • Simulators are not allowed
  • Drivers are trained in basic vehicle control skills and mastering basic manoeuvres. The trainer determines the performance level of the driver.

ELDT training register

The ELDT requires fleets that provide training to join their training registry so drivers can find and contact fleet managers directly. To qualify as an in-classroom instructor, instructors must have at least two years of CDL driving and trailer towing experience. In order to be able to offer driving courses, driving instructors must have two years of experience as a driving instructor.

Young recruits must complete their entire education before going to their state licensing department to take a CDL proficiency test. FMCSA requires the trainer to enter all relevant information into their system within 24 hours of completing the training in order for the student to take the test.

Instructors must also keep their own CDL in good working order and provide quality training. If the FMCSA determines that an instructor is not performing their job, they may remove that individual from the training directory.

Nancy Ross-Anderson is a Loss Control Specialist and Certified Safety Professional with IAT Insurance Group with nearly 40 years of fleet safety experience.