DOT fights Bus Driver Shortage by Waiving CDL “Under the Hood” Skills Test

DOT fights Bus Driver Shortage by Waiving CDL “Under the Hood” Skills Test

The FMCSA waiver, which became effective January 3, 2022, expires March 31, 2022.

On January 4th, 2022, the FMCSA, in coordination with the Department of Education, announced it would give states the option of waiving the portion of the commercial driver’s license (CDL) skills test that requires school bus driver applicants to identify the “under the hood” engine components.

“Our nation depends on having enough qualified school bus drivers to support our children’s education. Temporarily giving states the option to modify the school bus test, widens the pool of possible drivers to fill this critical role without compromising our vital safety standards,” said FMCSA Deputy Administrator Meera Joshi.

This temporary waiver is to help states and municipalities that are experiencing a shortage of school bus drivers recruit new hires and make sure schools are open for in-person learning full time. 

All other components of the written and road test must be met.

Drivers receiving a CDL under this temporary waiver are only permitted to operate intrastate school buses; they are not authorized to operate trucks, motorcoaches, or any other type of commercial motor vehicle requiring a CDL.

The FMCSA waiver, which became effective January 3, 2022, expires March 31, 2022.

Why School Bus Drivers Need Class B CDL Training before Feb. 2022 ELDT Rule

Many who are considering becoming a school bus driver do not know that a new federal regulation will add stricter training requirements in Feb. 2022.

The Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT) rule, which will be implemented on February 7, 2022, is the first to establish new minimum training requirements for individuals who want to:

  • obtain their commercial driver’s license (CDL) – Class A or B
  • upgrade their current Class or Class B CDL, or
  • obtain their initial passenger (P), school bus (S) or hazardous materials (H) endorsement

Under these new requirements, an entry-level driver must successfully complete a prescribed program of theory and behind-the-wheel instruction.

Prior to taking the knowledge test or the state administered CDL skills or hazmat endorsement tests, training must be provided by an entity listed on FMCSA’s Training Provider Registry (TPR).


In Pennsylvania, there are nearly 43,000 licensed school bus drivers and there is a need for many more.

To become a licensed school bus driver a person must have a Class A or B CDL with both passenger and school bus endorsements. A further brake endorsement may be required depending on the type of brakes on the bus.

Bus driver candidates must also pass a physical and background check, according to federal regulations.

Remember, as of February 7, 2022, entry-level CDL trainees will have much stricter requirements for obtaining their CDL.

Learn more about all levels of commercial driver training and CDL permit test preparation that we offer at our CNS Driver Training Center.

For more information, contact us at 888.260.9448 or

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