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Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT) Final Rule

Background


Since the passage of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA), Congress and the Department of Transportation (DOT) have sought to put forth a regulation that requires anyone seeking a commercial driver’s license (CDL) to obtain formal training before taking the CDL skills test[1]. After years of back and forth between the agency and the courts, Congress again required the DOT to put forth a regulation on entry-level driver training (ELDT) via the Moving Ahead for Progress in the Twenty-First Century Act of 2012 (MAP-21)[2]. In response, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) held a negotiated rulemaking in 2015. CVTA and 25 other industry leaders were chosen as participants in the Entry-Level Driver Training Advisory Committee (ELDTAC). The negotiated rule produced by the ELDTAC served as the blueprint for the Final regulation, which was issued on December 8, 2016[3]. Implementation of the rule began in June 20174 after a nearly six-month regulatory freeze was put in place at the beginning of the Trump administration and goes into effect February 7, 2020[4].

When fully implemented in February 2020, all states, at a minimum, must require:

  • All students to undergo a three-part curriculum comprised of classroom (theory), and behind-the-wheel (range and road). This collectively embodies approximately 30 subjects and requires students to demonstrateproficiency in all subjects and skills.
  • All training providers to certify its students are “proficient” in the skills curriculum based on their performance before taking the CDL exam.
  • Instructors must have two years teaching or industry experience.
  • All training providers to register, be approved, and listed on the FMCSA’s Training Provider Registry (TPR) (students who are not certified by a school on the TPR will not be able to test for a CDL).
  • While there are no federal minimum hours of BTW training, all training providers must disclose how many BTW hours the student completed on the student’s certificate.
  • State driver’s license authorities (SDLAs) to modify their data systems to be able to record BTW curriculum hours completed by each CDL applicant.


  • Recent Developments


    Implementation of the ELDT rule has encountered several hurdles since the rule was finalized in December 2016. In January 2017, President Donald Trump signed an executive order freezing implementation of rulemakings that had not yet been finalized. While the ELDT rule was made final, implementation of the rule did not yet start until June 2017. The rule is again in jeopardy since a notice of regulatory review was published in the October 2, 2017 Federal Register outlining 20 DOT rulemakings slated for review to consider whether they are necessary.

    In the Unified Agenda, published on December 14, 2017, the FMCSA announced it will be putting forth an NPRM to determine what should be required for upgrading from a Class B to a Class A CDL. DOT is already in the beginning stages of proposing a rule that would likely mend ELDT by reducing the requirements for an individual seeking to upgrade to a Class A CDL from a Class B. The rule currentlystates that anyone seeking to upgrade from a Class B to a Class A must undergo the entire Class A curriculum



    CVTA’s Proposal


    CVTA strongly supports the Final Rule as it is written. This Final Rule sets forth a comprehensive classroom and behind the wheel curriculum and requires individuals to demonstrate proficiency before being certified to take the CDL exam. While FMCSA did not incorporate all of the ELDTAC’s recommendations into its Final Rule, specifically an agreed upon minimum of 30-hours of required BTW training for Class A programs, CVTA believes it will greatly enhance highway safety because the curriculum requirements and demonstration of student skills performance far exceeds what most states currently require. For too long, sub-standard training providers (“CDL Mills”) have been able to exist with little or no oversight with the express purpose of simply preparing CDL applicants for the skills test without adequate training.

    While CVTA recognizes that regulatory fixes may be necessary from time to time, we believe this Final Rule is a common-sense measure that will improve safety. CVTA is strongly opposed to any attempts to further delay or water down this important regulation that improves highway safety.


    [1] The Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 § 4007, Pub. L. 102-240 (1991), 49 U.S.C. §§ 31701 et seq.(1991).

    [2] The Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act § 32304, 49 U.S.C. § 31305 (2012).

    [3] Minimum Training Requirements for Entry-Level Commercial Motor Vehicle Operators, 81 Fed. Reg. 88732 (December 8, 2016) (to be codified at 49 CFR Parts 380, 383, and 384). https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2017/02/01/2017-02150/minimum-training-requirements-for-entry-level-commercial-motor-vehicle-operators.

    [4] Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies, Reince Preibus (January 20, 2017), available at https://www. whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/memorandum-heads-executive-departments-agencies/


    Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Grants

    Background


    Congress reauthorized federal workforce programs funded under the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) through the passage of the 2014 Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). As with WIA, WIOA allocates federal funds to states, which then push these funds into their local workforce through state “one-stop” workforce centers. WIOA funds enable unemployed individuals to receive training in “in-demand” careers. Over the years, WIA/WIOA grants have allowed thousands of individuals to attend truck driver training schools and begin their careers as commercial drivers.


    Under WIOA, the “in-demand” occupation requirement requires state and local workforce boards to determine occupations that are in high demand based on local, state, or regional jobs data. In other words, under WIOA, grants will be awarded to pay for training programs only if state and local workforce boards have already determined that the applicant’s target industry has adequate job openings in that state or locality.[1]



    Current Problem


    CVTA believes lawmakers need to fully fund WIOA programs. WIOA remains a major source of funding to get individuals into trucking. Without robust funding, CVTA fears that less individuals will look to commercial trucking as a career option, thereby exacerbating the driver shortage. Additionally, CVTA is concerned about instances in states where driver training programs are not being classified as “in-demand” occupations. Specifically, CVTA knows of several workforce boards who have chosen not to list trucking as an “in-demand” occupation because it is based solely on local data. Thus, drivers in these states are denied WIOA grants to attend training because commercial vehicle driving jobs are not “in-demand” when, in fact, plenty of national trucking companies are anxious to hire them.


    Although WIOA allows state workforce boards to choose which data they will use when determining jobs that are “in-demand”, CVTA fears that too much reliance on state and local data at the expense of national data may unintentionally discriminate against non-domiciled companies. As such, this may actually lead to an increase in the driver shortage. Furthermore, WIOA program metrics may need to be adjusted to capture those residents who are employed by out of state companies but remain a resident of their state. Otherwise, trucking companies will unduly be punished because they hire in numerous states but may not be headquartered in these states.



    CVTA’s Position


    To ensure that qualified job seekers in each state have access to driver training programs, it is imperative that all governors and workforce boards understand the current driver shortage and recognize that many trucking companies will hire from any state in the U.S. Therefore, CVTA urges members of Congress to:


    1. Fully fund WIOA appropriations at authorized levels; and


    2. Be prepared to act – through letters, appropriations riders, or additional legislation – should this be necessary to ensure that commercial driver training is recognized as an “in-demand” occupation or to overcome additional WIOA implementation hurdles that could prevent future drivers from accessing quality driver training programs.




    [1] See Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014, 29 U.S.C. § 3102(23)(B) (2014), also see http://www.doleta.gov/wioa (“The determination of whether an industry sector or occupation is in-demand under this paragraph shall be made by the State board or local board, as appropriate, using State and regional business and labor market projections, including the use of labor market information.”).

    Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) Testing Delays

    Background


    To obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL), a student driver must follow a two-step process similar to that of someone seeking a traditional driver’s license. First, the driver must pass a written knowledge test to obtain his or her Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP). The CLP holder must then wait a minimum of 14 days to take the behind-the-wheel CDL skills test.[1]


    After successfully passing the skills exam and obtaining a CDL, the new driver is ready to begin their new career. Upon satisfying all requirements, new CDL drivers have little, if any trouble, getting placed in a well-paying job operating a truck or bus. The truck industry in particular is experiencing a driver shortage that was expected to surpass 50,000 drivers by the end of 2018.[2]


    The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) sets minimum CDL testing standards for all states. While all states must meet or exceed these minimum testing standards in terms of content, states are currently free to determine the entity that administers or conducts the CDL skills exam within their borders. States can either use state employees, such as examiners within its Department of Motor Vehicles (or equivalent agency), and/or delegate the testing function, in part or whole, to a state-certified third party, including commercial driving schools, trucking companies, municipalities, or independent test centers. This practice of allowing a non-state entities to conduct skills testing is referred to as “third party testing.” Forty states have adopted some form of third-party testing to ensure that there are enough personnel, testing sites and resources to test students expeditiously. Though states are not required to test students within a certain amount of time, delays in offering a skills test within a timely manner can create substantial hardships to students, motor carriers, and schools.



    Current Problem


    In 2015, the General Accounting Office (GAO) found that 15 states have CDL skills testing delays and backlogs that left students waiting 14 days or more to test for their CDL.[3] Students in eight of these states wait more than 21 days to take their initial CDL test.[4] Most importantly, because 20-50% of students fail their initial CDL skills test, students in states with testing delays are often forced to forgo income for additional weeks or months while waiting for a retest appointment to become available.[5] These delays are being further exacerbated by the fact that some states are closing down state run testing facilities either for budgetary reasons or due to their failure to meet increased size requirements for testing facilities. Since the GAO report was published, the FMCSA implemented new testing requirements,[6] which have actually increased delays in many states.


    Delays are primarily due to lack of testing sites and insufficient personnel to meet demand. Additionally, states are either unable to expend additional budget resources to solve its delay problem or are unwilling to expand testing capacity—thereby reducing backlogs of CDL applicants awaiting a CDL skills test appointment—via third-party testing. The result is that new drivers in many states are not able to take their CDL skills test or retest in a timely manner. These delays also delay a driver’s entry into the job market and receiving of income.


    Pursuant to Section 5506 of the FAST Act, in September 2018 the FMCSA released the Commercial Driver’s License Skills Test Delays Report -Calendar Year 2016.[7] This report disclosed skills testing delay times by state. The economic impact caused by skills testing delays are real and quantifiable. An independent analysis[8] (Economic Analysis) conducted for CVTA in 2018 concluded that:

    • Commercial driver testing delays resulted in $1.5 billion in economic loses across the United States.
    • $1.1 billion in direct lost wages can be attributed to testing delays.
    • Federal and local governments lost out on over $342 million in income and sales tax revenue in 2016.
    • 258,744 potential workforce entrants impacted by testing delays.
    • 6.4 million days of delays for new commercial drivers.


    Federal and State Action


    Industry concerns regarding testing delays prompted Congress to act. Since raising this issue, Congress has:

    • requested a GAO Report (2015),
    • implemented legislation in the Highway bill to require annual state disclosure of skills testing delays (2015),[9] and
    • introduced subsequent legislation[10] requiring all states to provide testing with 7 days of request (2017).

    CVTA has made significant progress on the state level to also address this problem. We have:

    • worked directly with the Texas governor’s office to implement third-party CDL testing in 2017.
    • sponsored legislation (AB 301) in the California State Assembly to reduce wait times to seven days or less.
    • succeeded in getting legislation passed in the New Jersey legislatures that requires the state’s Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) to implement a pilot program for third-party CDL testing. However, the MVC has failed to implement this legislative mandate.

    Next Steps


    CVTA’s Economic Analysis confirms that skills testing delays are causing real economic harm to future drivers and the U.S. economy. The significant economic impact demonstrates that this problem is national in scope and requires a national solution. Therefore, CVTA believes that Congress and the FMCSA must implement solutions to ensure states are meeting the testing demand in a timely manner.



    [1] See 49 C.F.R. § 384.301(f) (requiring states to substantially comply with the 2011 and 2013 revisions to CDL regulations by July 8, 2015).

    [2] BOB COSTELLO, TRUCK DRIVER SHORTAGE ANALYSIS, AM. TRUCKING ASSOCIATIONS 3 (2017).

    [3] See U.S. GOV’T ACCOUNTABILITY OFFICE, GAO-15-607, COMMERCIAL DRIVER’S LICENSES: FEDERAL OVERSIGHT OF STATE PROGRAMS COULD BE IMPROVED (2015), 19-21 (Fig. 3) (noting that states reported using third party testing in order to increase availability or access to skills tests for prospective students, supplement state testing resources, cut costs, and reduce testing wait times) [hereinafter GAO Report].

    [4] ID.

    [5] GAO Report, supra note 3, 25-26.

    [6] See 49 C.F.R. § 384.301(f) (requiring states to substantially comply with the 2011 and 2013 revisions to CDL regulations by July 8, 2015).

    [7] Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Commercial Driver’s License Skills Test Delays Report to Congress-Calendar Year 2016, (September 2018).

    [8] Pham, Nam D. and Donovan, Mary. Economic Impact of Wait Times for Commercial Driver’s License Skills Tests. NDP Analytics (December 2018).

    [9] Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (“FAST Act”), § 5506, Pub. L. 114-94 (December 4, 2015).

    [10] H.R. 4719, 115th Cong. (2017).

    18- to 20-Year Old Drivers

    Background


    Current Department of Transportation regulations require a driver to be 20 or older in order to operate a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) in interstate commerce.[1] The Motor Carrier Act of 1935 (“MCA”) created the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC), which was responsible for regulating the transportation of passengers and property by motor carriers operating in interstate or foreign commerce.[2] In 1937, the ICC created and implemented safety regulations for commercial drivers, which included a minimum age of 20 years old.[3]


    Therefore, an 18- to 20-year old who has the skills and maturity to obtain a CDL and begin working as a commercial driver can drive 250 miles from Kansas City, MO to St. Louis, MO, but that same driver is barred from simply crossing the Missouri river from Kansas City, MO to Kansas City, KS. Moreover, federal law bars drivers under 20 from driving a truck within any state’s borders if the cargo on that truck originated outside of the state or will eventually leave the state by any mode (otherwise classified as “interstate” cargo).[4]


    Since the requirement for interstate drivers to be 20 years of age or older is a regulation, not a law, the Department of Transportation can amend the regulation to allow drivers from 18- to 20-years of age to operate in interstate commerce through the rulemaking process.


    Current Problem


    Current limitations on commercial drivers under 20 are impractical considering under-20 drivers are permitted to drive intrastate trucks within their own home state boundaries. The age restriction is particularly problematic given the growing shortage of drivers in the trucking industry is approximately 50,000 drivers short of what is necessary to fill empty trucks.[5] This shortage is expected to increase rapidly over the next decade because of retirements and industry growth.[6] In fact, this shortage is expected to increase so dramatically that trucking companies will have to recruit an estimated 89,000 new drivers (net) each year over the next decade to meet these growing demands.[7]


    Recent Developments


    Congress included a provision in the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act),[8] which creates a pilot program that allows certain veterans from ages 18-20 to drive commercial motor vehicles in both interstate and intrastate commerce. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) published a request for comments[9] in which CVTA urged the administration to adopt performance-based training requirements as proposed in the Entry-Level Driver Training Proposed Rule. CVTA also commented that the same training or types of equipment should be used by both the test group (18- to 20-year-olds) and the control group (comprised of 21- to 26-year-old drivers). This ensures consistency in the type of equipment being operated, which in turn ensures consistency in how drivers in the control and test groups are compared.


    In the meantime, legislation introduced by Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-NY-22), the Waiving Hindrances to Economic Enterprise and Labor (WHEEL) Act, expands this pilot program to include any eligible 18- to 20-year-old driver with a valid CDL and a clean driving record. While the original pilot program established under the FAST Act is a good start to verifying the safety of younger drivers in trucks, expanding the program to include any eligible driver aged 18-21 will provide a larger and more diverse study group from which to collect critical data. CVTA supports this legislation and is advocating for its timely passage.


    CVTA is also examining H.R.5358, the Developing Responsible Individuals for a Vibrant Economy (DRIVE) Safe Act sponsored by Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA-50). The DRIVE Safe Act would allow a motor carrier to develop a 400-hour post-CDL apprenticeship program specifically designed for under-20-year-old drivers.


    CVTA’s Position


    CVTA supports lifting restrictions that prevent 18- to 20-year-old drivers from operating in interstate commerce with certain restrictions. Entry-level driver training (ELDT) standards, which are being implemented, will ensure all truck drivers will have a base-level proficiency leading to better trained and safer drivers. With the advent of new technologies such as advanced collision warning systems, lane departure warning systems, automatic braking, speed limiters, on-board video monitoring, stability control, automatic transmissions, electronic logging devices, and telematics, trucks are safer to operate than ever before.


    As automated technologies in trucks become even more advanced, trucking is positioned to once again be a career of choice for many technologically savvy young adults. Additionally, vocational careers are becoming a more popular option for high school graduates because of the potential to acquire hard skills that are in-demand and lead to secure, well-paying jobs. The increased interest in vocational careers has given the trucking industry and policymakers an opportunity to mitigate the driver shortage. The post-secondary years are critical for 18-21-year-olds in making career decisions and should not have interstate trucking withheld as an option.




    [1] 49 C.F.R. 391.11(b)(1)

    [2] Motor Carrier Act of 1935, Section 204(a)(1)-(2), Pub. L. 74-255, 49 Stat. 543 (1935) (granted the ICC powers under section 204 created the ICC, which was a precursor of what is now the FMCSA.

    [3] 2 Fed. Reg. 110 (January 22, 1937).

    [4] See FMCSA Frequently Asked Questions: What is the age for operating a CMV in Interstate Commerce?, https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/faq/what-age-requirement-operating-cmv-interstate-commerce (last visited Feb. 6, 2017) (stating that individuals must be 21 to operate a CMV in interstate commerce); see also guidance relating to 49 C.F.R. § 390.5 (stating that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations are only “applicable to drivers and CMVs in interstate commerce which transport property” and therefore, even “a driver transporting an empty CMV across State lines for purposes of repair and maintenance would be considered interstate commerce.”).

    [5] BOB COSTELLO, TRUCK DRIVER SHORTAGE ANALYSIS, AM. TRUCKING ASSOCIATIONS 6 (2017).

    [6] Id.

    [7] Id.

    [8] Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, Pub. L. No. 114-94, § 5404, 129 Stat. 1311, 1549-50 (2015).

    [9] Commercial Driver’s Licenses; Proposed Pilot Program To Allow Persons Between the Ages of 18 and 21 With Military Driving Experience To Operate Commercial Motor Vehicles in Interstate Commerce, 81 Fed. Reg. 56745 (Aug. 22, 2016).