A new federally mandated commercial driver's license program has puttered along its first three months, but the Idaho Transportation Department said they aren't worried about the slow start.

Since the program started in the state in September, the Transportation Department has issued 1,577 commercial drivers' licenses. About 50,000 drivers in Idaho have until April 1992 to get the special license."Procrastination can be expected," said Richard Holloran, who directs the state's program. "No one likes to take tests."

But, he said, 90.7 percent of the applicants pass the exam.

"Drivers who spend some time with their manuals and study the material do just fine on the exams," Holloran said.

He said several misconceptions have cropped up about the licensing procedure.

"Many drivers are concerned their license will be taken away if they fail the exams," Holloran said. "This is not the case. Drivers keep their present license until they pass the exams."

Also, Holloran said, many drivers are not coming in because they think the remaining time on their current license will be lost.

"Any time remaining on an Idaho operator or chauffeur's license is added on to the CDL when the driver passes the exam," he said.

In addition to a general knowledge test, drivers may also have to take a driving skills test or tests on air brakes, combination vehicles, double- and triple-trailers, passengers, tankers and hazardous materials.

Holloran said applicants appear to be well prepared for the tests. Many are attending workshops sponsored by the Idaho Technology Transfer Center, which is part of the state Transportation Department.

Holloran said a commercial driver's license hotline was available to answer questions.