Other Associations Paved The Way For CVTA
Principal, Mike Byrnes and Associates;
Founding Member of CVTA
My recollection of truck school associations begins with the National Association of Truck Driving Schools (NATDS) that was found in the early 1980s. Members of NATDS were public and private schools. Several NATDS members had, in the late ‘70s, assisted Pete Little, (USDOT/BMCS) develop the DOT Model Curriculum for Training Tractor-Trailer Drivers which were published by DOT in the mid 1980’s.
One of the common efforts of members of NATDS was the development of standards that were based on the BMCS Proposed Minimum Standards to be used by the Professional Truck Driver Institute of America (PTDIA). Working meetings were conducted in Washington, DC; Sacramento, California; Kansas City and Denver, CO.
NATDS served a need in bringing both public and private schools together for common causes. During the existence of NATDS some significant events occurred. Partnerships and friendships were formed among school owners. An example of the friendships and support for fellow members occurred when a hurricane hit North Carolina. A NATDS member and school owner in Texas called his fellow member and school owner in North Carolina to offer assistance in the form of trucks, mechanics, books, forms and instructors to assist the North Carolina school owner in recovering from storm damage.
In the late 80s, another association known as the Committee of Accredited Truck Schools (CATDS) was formed. Members of CATDS were private schools with national accreditation. The main thrust of CATDS was to address legislative issues pertaining to the US Department of Education and the Guaranteed Student Loan Program. In late 1992 as the majority of schools discontinued the Guaranteed Student Loan Program and/or accreditation and CATDS slowly dissolved.
In January 1989, the Association of Certified Trucking Schools (ACTS) was formed. Membership was made up of eight schools offering PTDIA certified courses. The association’s mission was to seek federal funding for schools offering certified courses The association was dissolved in late 1991/early 1992. Also in the early 1990s, public truck driver training schools started the Association of Publicly Funded Truck Driving Schools (APFTDS).
In 1993, a group of private school owners who were previous members of NATDS, CATDS and ACTS began meeting informally at various locations around the country. One of the very first of these meetings was held in Las Vegas, NV in the spring of 1993. Forty school owners attended. The informal group eventually named itself "the Coalition of Proprietary Schools" (COPS). The group was invited to become a member of the Driver Training and Development Alliance (DTDA), which was formed by the American Trucking Associations (ATA). During DTDA’s second annual meeting, COPS decided to formalize the membership into an association called the Commercial Vehicle Training Association (CVTA). Earl Eisenhart, was asked to serve as the executive director of CVTA. Earl was later replaced by Michael O’Connell, who still guides CVTA today. From the eight schools attending the first official CVTA meeting, membership has grown considerably each year.
One of the first accomplishments of CVTA was to establish a strong "Code of Conduct" with which all member schools would have to comply. Since its formation, CVTA has been able to address tough issues affecting the school business including false and deceptive advertising practices and the availability of student loan funding. The accomplishments of CVTA have benefited not only its members but all schools.
Membership in CVTA has grown rapidly over the past 2 years. In 2000 and 2001 the APFTDS and CVTA conducted joint meetings. The joint meeting in April 2001, in San Antonio, TX was the largest assembly of truck driving schools ever. Nearly 180 schools filled the meeting room
At the close of 2001, 42 CVTA members operated more than 130 training facilities in 32 states. These facilities graduated more than 40,000 students per year.