Regulations for new commercial drivers in Alaska tightened on Monday | KHNS Radio

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New rules for new commercial vehicle drivers and those upgrading their licenses came into effect on Monday. The new regulations require more in-depth instructions for anyone wishing to obtain a new Class B or higher license. But costs for most tour operators in tourist towns like Skagway won’t be as high as some feared.


The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s new rules for novice commercial drivers will require more formal training for anyone looking to operate a vehicle over 26,000 lbs. In Skagway, small tour operators rely on hiring and training new tour guides from season to season. Fortunately for most Skagway companies, their vehicles do not exceed this weight limit and will not require further training.

Chris Lisenby of the Alaska Driving Academy in Soldotna says his entry-level driver training program switched to the new curriculum when the administration first announced it would raise standards there. a few years old.

“The goal of the ELDT mandate was to put more educated trained drivers on the road. Too many people were going to get the Quickie license, get my license, go out and drive and that was bad for the industry. Motor carriers didn’t like it, because they were hiring drivers who knew nothing about the industry and had minimal skills. And it’s not safe for the automotive public. You know, just because you have your license doesn’t mean you really have a complete idea of ​​how this vehicle performs in different conditions,” Lisenby said.

The new requirements for new Class A and B drivers call for a score of 80% or higher on 30 class units. Then they will spend time with an instructor to learn how to drive the vehicle. Previously, drivers could study on their own, pass a test, and hit the road quickly. Greg Clem owns Klondike Tours and will begin operating Skagway’s SMARTbus shuttle service in April. He says all of his vehicles are under the weight limit, but he will need to make some changes to train new Class C drivers who can drive his airport shuttle-sized buses.

First, he will have to become a licensed instructor. To do this, you must have the same level of license, with all applicable endorsements for at least two years, then you complete the application and can teach the program.

“It’s a lot of paperwork, but it’s all free. Assuming I do the training, they would come to me first. According to the laws, I have to do passenger approval, according to reality, I would train them on everything,” Clem said.

Once Clem has submitted all his documents, he will be listed on a national database of approved instructors. He can choose to teach anyone looking for a Class C license with passenger endorsement, or he can choose to only teach people in his company.

For now, in order to get a full license to drive tours in Skagway, new drivers will need to take a bus to Juneau to complete their testing. Clem says it will cost around $600 to put one of his little buses on the ferry, and another $200 in fees.

New school bus drivers will need to learn from a licensed instructor on the national registry and complete the S-approval. For new drivers who want to get into driving large vehicles with air brakes or large rigs, training is more intense.

“If you’re class A or B, you need to go to a coach who has that title,” Clem said.

Courses at training schools in Alaska vary in length from five days to several weeks. Sarah Douthit of the Kenai Peninsula Driving School says her school is asking students to complete some of their learning online before in-person instruction begins at school.

“Whether you go to a big school for six months, or you come here for a week of driving and a week of e-learning, as long as those requirements are met by your program, you can get into a CDL,” says Duthit.

The cost of courses at training schools in Alaska range from just over $5,000 to over $7,000, and most are located near major population centers. At this time, there are no on-road courses or CDL examiners available in Skagway, so prospective drivers will need to travel to Juneau, but that could change according to DMV officials.

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