The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently increased the timeframe for commercial learner permits from six months to one year rather than the previous 180 day limit. The timeframe may be increased at the discretion of each individual state, meaning that it will not likely be uniform across all parts of the U.S. Since it is an option and not a requirement, it is not expected that every state will choose to open up the length of time in which a commercial learner permit (CLP) can be in effect.
Much like a standard driver’s license, the commercial learner permit is available for transport drivers who have not yet received their commercial driver’s license (CDL). The CLP serves as a sort of “bridge” to full licensure for commercial drivers and they can also reapply for the CLP if they have not yet gotten the CDL. The new availability of the six month extension allows a longer period of time in which the driver can apply for and receive the commercial license.
A commercial driver’s license requires the driver to pass both a skills and knowledge test since there’s a lot more involved in the operation of a transport truck than a standard sized vehicle. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, drivers who hold a commercial driver’s license have higher expectations and standards to meet than any other drivers on the road.
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Criticism & Industry Issues With CLP Extension
There’s some obvious advantages to the extended period of CLP usability. For one, those who have not yet been able to qualify for the CDL may continue to work and operate transport carriers when the otherwise wouldn’t be able to. On the other side of the coin is a criticism that the program would encourage companies to continue using drivers with only a learner permit rather than a full license, thus reducing the overall level of safety on the road, as well as the available opportunities for licensed drivers. There are also other requirements that must be meet by certain drivers, for example those driving a passenger vehicle or hazardous materials.
Commercial Licensing Resources
Commercial Learner Permit documents - Here you can learn about the basics of the CLP program, as well as read supplemental and related documentation. The document is very thorough and lengthy and includes summaries and criticisms of the CLP extension.
Driver’s License Agencies By State - If you have specific questions about the CLP and how it is going to be applied in each individual state, you’ll need to contact the proper state-affiliated agency for the specifics. This resources has contact information for each state in the U.S.