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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Effectiveness of Third Party Testing and Minimum Standards for Commercial Driver's License (CDL) Knowledge and Skills Tests


Project Goal:

The goal of this project is to determine the effectiveness of third-party testing as well the effectiveness of using minimum standards for training and testing for Commercial Driver's License (CDL) knowledge and skills tests.


FMCSA regulations allow for individual States to use third-party testers to administer skills tests. States that opt to utilize third-party testing are required to oversee the third-party testing program to ensure compliance with State and Federal standards for CDL Skills Testing. Since its detection in both State and Federal investigations in the past, test fraud during the third-party administration of both the knowledge and skills tests continues to be a concern.

In 2005, the American Association of Motor Vehicles (AAMVA) published a CDL Test Model which is used as the minimum national testing standard for CDL skills and knowledge tests. The safety impacts and potential benefits of this test model have not yet been evaluated by FMCSA.

In 2012's Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) legislation, FMCSA was required to publish a final rule on minimum standards for CDL entry-level driver training. On December 8, 2016, FMCSA's Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT) rule was published with a compliance date of February 7, 2022. The safety impacts of the ELDT rule have not yet been evaluated by FMCSA.


To date, there is limited research available correlating driver performance with the type of training a driver received (i.e., jurisdiction vs. third-party). An additional challenge for FMCSA relates to maintaining proper oversight of third-party ELDT providers. This multi-part study will attempt to address these challenges by (1) assessing the effectiveness of the minimum standards for training and CDL knowledge and skills testing established through the ELDT program on driver performance and safety, and (2) assessing the effectiveness of third-party training with respect to driver performance and fraud.