DMV Adopts “Under the Hood” Exemption” for Commercial Driver License Road Test, Allows New Bus Drivers to Take Road Test Without Engine Compartment Portion.

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced a plan to remove barriers for perspective school bus drivers applying for a commercial driver license. At the Governor’s direction, the DMV has implemented a federal waiver that allows school bus driver applicants to skip the engine compartment component, also called the “under the hood” component of the commercial driver license road test. This will make it easier to get a commercial license at a time when school bus drivers are desperately needed and is the latest in a series of actions directed by Governor Hochul to address the critical shortage of truck and bus drivers. 

“The job of transporting and caring for our children is so important, and the need for more drivers throughout New York State is very real,” Governor Hochul said. “This simple change will encourage more New Yorkers to become school bus drivers – a chance for many to be a positive influence and help support our students, without sacrificing safety.”  

DMV Commissioner Mark J.F. Schroeder said, “Bus drivers are such an important part of our school system. Not only do they have the incredible responsibility of getting our children to and from school safely, but they’re also often the first friendly face a student sees outside of their family as they begin their day. New York State values and appreciates our school bus drivers and hopes this step will help more people qualify to take these jobs and help shape the future of New York’s children.”  

Representative Joe Morelle said, “It is critical that we address the shortage of school bus drivers to ensure we can safely transport our children to school. That’s why I have worked closely with federal partners at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to successfully provide a waiver allowing more people to apply for bus driver positions — and I’m thrilled to see New York taking advantage of these resources. I’m grateful to Governor Hochul for her partnership and applaud this decision that will ease the burden on our communities, provide parents with much-needed peace of mind, and support our students.”

The “under the hood” exemption is allowed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to help States hire more bus drivers without sacrificing safety, as existing school bus inspection and maintenance standards continue to apply. During the road test, applicants are still required to perform the remaining elements of the Commercial Driver License (CDL) vehicle inspection skills test. This new CDL classification, which is set to expire November 27, 2024, will restrict licensees to driving only school buses and only in New York State.  

The steps interested New Yorkers should take to get a School Bus Only CDL are as follows:  

At the Governor’s direction, in 2022, the DMV launched a program authorizing third parties to conduct commercial road tests, which has significantly increased the capacity for these types of road tests statewide. There are currently 27 third-party entities conducting commercial driver license road tests throughout the State. In addition, through cooperation with county-operated DMV offices, the State also increased testing capacity for written commercial permit exams across the State.

Learn more about how to become a school bus driver. Read a step-by-step guide to get a CDL.


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