For the past several years, OhioBev and other industries who rely on commercial trucks have worked on CDL improvements. From examining rules written in the 1970’s to advocating for our members to hire their own CDL certified examiners, we keep chipping away at outmoded ways of running this vital program. And with outstanding support from the DeWine-Husted Administration and strong bipartisan support in the Ohio General Assembly, we are seeing real progress.
Lt. Governor Husted recently announced three key CDL modernization moves. The first allows online CDL renewal. This follows online renewal options for regular drivers’ licenses which the Ohio BMV calculates have saved 4.5 million trips to a local BMV and 500,000 hours standing in line. In our business time is precious and anything that saves time and hassle is a win.
The next change conforms Ohio law to federal law which allows for a 12 month commercial learner’s permit (CLP)—an increase from Ohio’s previous six month CLP. With backlogs at CDL training schools and testing sites, having more time on the CLP makes good sense.
And after FMCSA piloted a new CDL test, Ohio became the second state to adopt the new format. With refinements to both the pre-trip inspection and maneuverability parts of the test, drivers can now be judged on more “real world” knowledge rather than things like rote memorization of 90 items on a pre-trip list or parallel parking an 18-wheeler.
Everywhere I travel on facility tours, I hear about CDL driver shortages and challenges retaining drivers. And when I attended the Lt. Governor’s press conference, he shared that Ohio Means Jobs currently has 7,000 jobs listed which require CDL’s. This sobering number underscores the value of working on all facets of this challenge.
The next chapter for us is finishing touches on administrative rules which will allow our members to employ their own certified CDL examiners. The collective voices of our members during our OhioBev Legislative Day and countless conversations with key stakeholders, allied industries and committed leaders at the Ohio Department of Public Safety enabled a key law change for this to move forward. We are grateful for the partnerships and look forward to the rule package advancing.