Assemblyman Billy Jones, Business Leaders and Local School Districts: Governor’s Announcement to Expand CDL Testing Is Step in Right Direction

Earlier this week, Governor Kathy Hochul announced that New York will be significantly expanding the availability of road tests for Commercial Driver License (CDL) applicants to help address the critical shortage of CDL drivers. Assemblyman Billy Jones (D-Chateaugay Lake) joined local business and school leaders in October calling on more road tests for CDL drivers.

 “This is an important step forward in addressing the CDL shortage,” said Assemblyman Jones. “This is a relief for many businesses who have contacted my office because of how difficult it has been to schedule a road test for potential CDL drivers. People across the North Country are experiencing the impact of the CDL driver shortage between empty shelves at our grocery stores to the shortage of bus drivers which are causing many local school districts to be on the brink of switching to remote learning. I want to thank the Governor for listening to our calls to expand the availability of road tests and I look forward to continuing to work with her to improve the CDL process.”

 “We have been pleased to join with Assemblyman Jones in highlighting this growing challenge," said Garry Douglas, President of the North Country Chamber of Commerce. "The outreach has been active, and we thank Governor Hochul for listening, understanding and responding. This is definitely a step in the right direction."

“We are very encouraged by Governor Kathy Hochul’s announcement today to help address a critical shortage of truck and bus drivers by allowing qualified third parties to offer road tests,” Dr. Mark Davey, District Superintendent/Chief Executive Officer at Champlain Valley Educational Services (CVES BOCES) and Michele Friedman, Director of Career and Technical Education (CTE) said in a joint statement. “The proposal creates plenty of hope that new pathways for CDL holders will be established for the future. Champlain Valley Educational Services is proud to provide CDL-A and CDL-B courses at CV-TEC. We are extremely proud and confident in the courses that we offer, and through our strong North Country partnerships as well as our expert instructors and business partners, we have all the assets to help combat the challenges presented by this shortage locally and nationwide.” 

Earlier in January, the United State Department of Transportation announced that states can apply to waive the pre-trip inspection requirement for those obtaining a CDL to become bus drivers. The pre-trip inspection was a topic of Assemblyman Jones’s press conference on the CDL driver shortage in October because of how much the inspection has been a barrier to those who want to become CDL driers. Governor Kathy Hochul has not applied for this waiver.

“The pre-trip inspection has deterred too many potential CDL drivers from becoming drivers and it’s imperative that New York applies for this waiver,” said Jones. “This will be a lifeline for school districts struggling to hire school bus drivers.”