FMCSA Eases Requirements for CDL-Seeking Military Veterans

Tuesday, Nov 8 2016 admin

Flatbed Truck Hauling Military TanksIt can be difficult to get into the trucking world. You’ve got to pass your commercial driver’s license exam, get a Department of Transportation physical exam, and go through a whole lot of paperwork before you are paid for your first mile. Now tack on the fact that you are a military personnel, either active duty on leave or a veteran. You are faced with a whole new slew of roadblocks that will prevent you from finding trucking jobs back in the states. Since you don’t have truck driving experience from a trucking company in the US, it looks like you are a rookie driver. What does this mean, and how is the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration trying to reverse this issue?

Problems for Military Persons Finding Trucking Jobs

Whether or not you are in the military it can be very difficult to get that first trucking job. The main source of contention is that trucking companies require you to have so many months, or even years, of behind the wheel experience. If you have not worked with a trucking company, per say, then you don’t have this experience to report on your resume. This is a major problem for rookie drivers, and also the reason that more and more truckers are going to trucking schools that are sponsored by trucking companies. It is also a big issue for veterans who don’t have that experience, but whom have plenty of other trucking experience to their credit.

Military Experience Counts

For soldiers who were truck drivers in the military, they may not have highway miles to show for, but they do have real world experience. They know how to operate a heavy truck, they are familiar with truck engines and repairs, and most importantly, they know what to do when the going gets tough. Military truck drivers may not have driven a million highway miles, but they sure have driven on some of the roughest, most dangerous and least accommodating terrain on the planet. That should count for something right?

Then you have the military training that is provided to all soldiers, which has instilled hard work, dedication, commitment, and steadfastness in their frame of mind. All of these traits are well beloved by any company and especially trucking companies that see the greatest turnover rates. So what is the holdup on hiring these vets for trucking jobs in the US?

The FMCSA Extends Waiver Deadline for Military Truckers

The FMCSA is the holdup, or at least it has been on the account of requiring military personnel to apply for a skills test waiver within 90 days of returning to the states. This was a big issue in the past as military personnel who don’t fill out this waiver form within those first three months of returning home did not qualify for getting their CDL for US trucking jobs. That was quite a short time for these soldiers to take care of this business, which left most would-be truckers in the lurch.

For one, if you have been overseas for months, if not years, and you return to the US for some R and R, the last thing on your mind is to fill out that waiver by the deadline. In fact, most military drivers are not even likely to be aware of such a waiver until they start to apply for truck driving jobs. By then it’s likely too late for these potential truckers to handle the paperwork for the waiver. As a result of this short time frame the FMCSA has extended the waiver opportunity for 12 months after a soldier has returned home.

CDL Applications Online for Military Personnel

Additionally, states are now able to accept online applications for CDLs from active duty personnel where they are stationed at. States can also administer CDL written and skills exams to soldiers in their current state of residence, and then submit that to their home state in order for the individual to receive their CDL.

This is a huge improvement from before, whereas a soldier would have to return to their home state, which may be thousands of miles away from the state where they are currently stationed. By giving these soldiers a chance to apply online, it gives them a greater opportunity to get their CDLs without having to jump through hoops.

The goal is to get more experienced truck drivers behind the wheel of big rigs, and military personnel are part of the strongest work force we have to date. By extending the waiver for applying for a skills test, in addition to freeing up the CDL exam requirements for military personnel, the FMCSA is showing vast improvement in the way they treat military vets who are truck drivers.

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