CSM Gets Green Light to Administer MVA’s CDL Exams, Allowing New Truck/Bus Drivers to Enter Workforce Quicker

August 22, 2022

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The College of Southern Maryland (CSM) and the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) have come up with a solution that puts qualified employees into a tractor-trailer and/or bus driver’s seat, and into the regional workforce, a whole lot quicker.

Through a new agreement between CSM and MVA’s Employer Testing Program, CSM students who complete CSM’s Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) Class A or Class B program can now take their driver’s test without having to wait for an appointment at the MVA. Instead, students can take their CDL skill exam at CSM upon completion of their course work.

“We can now schedule testing dates for students when they enter our program, since that piece is now under our control,” said Mary Beth McCollum, the director of the Center for Transportation Training at CSM. During the height of the pandemic, MVA waits to test stretched nearly a year, and can still average several months. 

McCollum said other advantages to the new agreement are that students will be able to complete their test while their training and skills are still fresh, and students will be able to enter the workforce sooner and on a more predictable timeline.

Several safeguards are in place to ensure that the testing completed by CSM instructors is as rigorous as testing completed on site at the MVA. All testers are required to complete a three-day training course at the MVA, and instructors are not permitted to test the students they taught. CSM is also required to notify the MVA of any tests that will be performed so that representatives can observe or conduct audits.

McCollum said that CSM students are typically successful on the tests.

“We teach beyond what the MVA expects, so our students have always been overly prepared,” she said. “We prepare them for the industry, not just the MVA.

“On-site CDL testing provides a benefit to the students, to us, and to the industry,” McCollum added, pointing out how this is especially critical as the nation faces a shortage of CDL holders. 

The American Trucking Associations reported that the industry is short 80,000 drivers today – an all-time high for the industry – and it may be short 160,000 drivers by 2030.

“Since we last released an estimate of the shortage, there has been tremendous pressure on the driver pool,” American Trucking Associations’ Chief Economist Bob Costello said, in the report. “Increased demand for freight, pandemic-related challenges from early retirements, closed driving schools and DMVs, and other pressures are really pushing up demand for drives and subsequently the shortage.”

And with less than one week to go before area schools start, WMAR recently reported school districts across Maryland still struggling with bus driver shortages.  

“School officials have been doing everything to find applicants, from advertising, promoting bonuses and holding job fairs,” said reporter Ashley McDowell. "But there’s still concern as to whether the wheels on the bus will be going round and round if the public school system doesn't see more applicants for transportation.”

CSM is one of only a few community colleges in the state that participates in the Employer Testing Program. CDL training is especially in demand following new federal regulations that effectively reduced the number of training facilities, which went into effect this year. CSM offers 12 sessions a year, eight for Class A drivers and four for Class B drivers. Each session can accommodate a maximum of 12 students.

The Class A program is designed to provide skilled truck drivers for transportation companies and includes both classroom instruction and practical experience behind the wheel through classes such as Safe Vehicle Operation, Basic Vehicle Skills, and Simulated Road Hazards Defensive Driving.

The Class B program prepares students to be school bus drivers, motor coach bus drivers, transit bus drivers and/or straight truck drivers. 

You may also be interested in reading “CSM’s Center for Transportation Remain Ready as National Demand for CDL Drivers Continues...”

Learn more about CSM’s CDL program at https://www.csmd.edu/programs-courses/non-credit/workforce-training/transportation/index.html.

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