N.Y. DMV tabs first third-party CDL testing site under new program

May 18, 2022

Ryan Witkowski


In January, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced a two-phase plan to allow qualified third-parties to administer the commercial driver’s license skills test. Phase one of that plan is now underway.

On May 17, the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles announced that the Capital District Transportation Authority is the first to be approved for the new program. Under the new regulations, CDTA can now conduct skills tests for newly hired drivers. CDTA runs local and express buses.

Carm Basile, CEO of the Capital District Transportation Authority, called the ability to administer the CDL skills test a “game changer” for his company.

“This is a game changer for CDTA,” Basile said in a statement. “Thank you to Gov. Hochul for her leadership and vision to implement this innovative solution. By streamlining the testing process, this will allow us to get more operators out on the roads efficiently and at a quicker pace to help meet the demands of our growing industry.”

Lewie Pugh, executive vice president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, has called the measure “short-sighted” and cautions against rushing drivers to the road.

“Whenever we start talking about ways to expedite getting a CDL, it is always concerning,” Pugh said when the program was announced in January. “Learning to drive any commercial vehicle is not a thing that we should be looking for an express lane.”

With the start of phase one, the New York State DMV is working with carriers with large fleets to begin conducting commercial driving skills tests.

Phase two, which is expected to begin in late 2022, will add qualified private entities into the mix. According to a statement from the state DMV, it “has established a rigorous monitoring system to ensure that qualified CDL trainers safely administer the road tests in compliance with state and federal regulations.”

Mark J.F. Schroeder, commissioner of the New York State DMV, said the measure will help to speed up the process of filling essential roles.

“Commercial drivers are essential to our communities and to our state’s economy by ensuring that vital goods are delivered on time, children get to school safely, and critical infrastructure projects move forward,” Schroeder said in a statement. “By approving third parties to conduct commercial road tests, we are empowering partner entities to test their drivers and expanding capacity at the existing state-run sites, making it faster and easier to get qualified commercial drivers on the road.”

In addition to the new CDL road test program, the state also is implementing a training program for 18-20 year olds to obtain a Class A CDL for intrastate commerce.

On May 14, the state amended the vehicle and traffic law to allow the department to issue a Class A CDL to a person who is 18-20 years old. Under the previous law, drivers under the age of 21 could only obtain a Class B or Class C commercial license.

Drivers earning their CDL under the new program will do so under the entry level driver training regulations. Additionally, all drivers must complete the Commercial Driver’s License Class A Young Adult training program established by the state DMV, which requires an additional 300 hours of supervised driving. LL