The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is awarding more than $44 million in grants to state CDL programs to increase the number of commercial drivers on the road and ease supply chain issues, according to an FMCSA release.
The grants, awarded annually through the Commercial Driver’s License Program Implementation (CDLPI) program, allow states to apply for funding to expand CDL issuing capacity by hiring more personnel, buying new equipment, or otherwise investing in capacity in a fashion that adheres to grant guidelines.
“FMCSA’s core mission is safety, and we’re proud to make investments that support the U.S. Department of Transportation’s ambitious goal of zero fatalities on our roadways,” FMCSA Deputy Administrator Robin Hutcheson said. “The grants we are announcing today are an important tool for reducing large truck crashes and supporting critical safety programs in every state.”
The funding represents a 74% increase in CDLPI program funds from last year due to the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which was signed into law by President Biden last November. The funding is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation and Department of Labor’s Trucking Action Plan, which aims to create truck driving jobs.
Skills testing delays, investment in veterans
Every year the FMCSA surveys state CDL programs to evaluate skills testing delays, and while the 2022 information is still being compiled, FMCSA representatives said that delays have been low on average. Of the states that have applied for CDLPI grants, five have asked for increases in skills testing personnel.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, more CDL test sites have been offering after-hours or weekend testing appointments to give testing opportunities to a wider pool of prospective drivers. The CDLPI grants could conceivably be used by states to offer more off-hours opportunities for CDL applicants.
The FMCSA has also awarded an additional $3.1 million to community colleges and training institutes through the Commercial Motor Vehicle Operator Safety Training (CMVOST) Grant Program. These grants will assist current and former members of the U.S. armed forces who want to pursue careers in trucking to get commercial driver’s licenses and the training they need to enter the profession.
Nearly 60% of FMCSA’s annual budget provides states and local communities with grant funding to enhance commercial vehicle safety.