Trucking schools want third-party testing amid CDL testing delays
years, commercial driver’s license testing delays have hampered the trucking industry, putting jobs on hold at a cost of millions of dollars to local economies.
Chris Hanson owns TDT Safety Training, a private commercial driving school in Kesota. Right now, his students have to wait until appointments open up at a DVS station to take their road test, but Hanson wants the state to allow for third-party testing like most states.
“I think third-party vendors make a lot of sense because we are already trained. I’m already, you know, certified by the state to offer this training. If the state can’t trust us to test our people, we have some sort of disconnect,” said Hanson.
When asked why the state won’t allow third-party testing in private schools, DVS said they’re focused on safety.
“We want to make sure that that our newest drivers, newest commercial drivers, are being put through all the rigors of that requirements,” said Pong Xiong, Director of DVS.
Hanson says in a 2021 report, the Legislative Auditor said if DVS would move all CDL testing to third-party administrators, it would free up 40,000 DVS tests annually for Class D drivers.
“So, it would significantly impact all Minnesotans who are trying to get their driver’s license, especially with the Minnesota Driver’s License for All program, right, we’re seeing a big backlog just because of that,” said Hanson.
DVS says they don’t have enough examiners but are prioritizing the budget to fill vacancies. Currently, there are 98 staff members trained in administering CDL exams. All 93 offices offer the CDL knowledge or written tests and 25 of those locations offer the skills or road test.
“We’ve been offering what we call CDL Saturdays. So, it’s one Saturday a month, we offer CDL appointments. We’re working with different organizations to let them know when those appointments become available,” said Xiong.
State statute says students are required to have their permit for 14 days before taking the CDL road test. Xiong says tests should be available by that time, but it’s not always the case. Some students are waiting an average of 24 days to get a test and if they fail, they’ll have to wait another three to four weeks to get tested again.