Trucking begins with driver education. Drivers are as essential to the trucking industry as the trucks they drive. As the leading voice of commercial driver education in the United States, CVTA is a trusted source of information about driver training, trucking safety, and transportation and education public policy. CVTA’s public policy agenda focuses on those issues which affect students, our schools’ ability to produce safe, quality entry level drivers into the trucking industry, and for carriers to hire quality drivers.
CVTA members have over 185 training locations in 43 states and collectively train approximately 50,000 drivers per year. Over the next 10 years, the trucking industry is expected to have a shortfall of 239,000 drivers. In order to keep up with increasing retirement rates and a growing economy, the industry must attract an average of nearly 97,000 new drivers each year. In short, the trucking industry needs more drivers than are currently being trained each year.
With this in mind, CVTA’s 2015 priorities are meant to meet this growing demand and support our mission of promoting excellence in training, developing safety in the transportation industry, and enhancing driver professionalism.
Under current law, a person can sit for his commercial driver’s license test (CDL) without receiving formal driver training. The Department of Transportation has attempted to establish minimum training requirements for all new commercial truck drivers for over 20 years. To date, all previous attempts at establishing Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT) regulations by the Department of Transportation have not survived judicial scrutiny. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is currently undertaking a negotiated rulemaking in an attempt to create minimum training requirements for all entry-level drivers.
CVTA is focused on helping our member schools produce safe, high quality drivers. This focus is why CVTA believes that any driver sitting for their CDL should (a) first be required to attend mandatory training that includes both classroom and behind-the-wheel training, (b) that new drivers should be required to present certification showing successful completion of the required training prior to sitting for the CDL, (c) that training should be performance-based rather than hours-based (i.e. that a new driver should become competent in the required knowledge and skills prior to sitting for his CDL, rather than merely completing a set number of hours of training), and (d) that all training programs should be licensed by the state in which they operate.
America’s ability to train a skilled workforce is necessary to compete globally. Ensuring a reliable transportation system and transportation workforce is critical to our nation’s economic growth and well-being. A reliable transportation system begins with meeting the demand for commercial drivers which deliver the freight to storefronts and manufacturers across America.
In 2014, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) reauthorized federal workforce programs and provides grants for job-seekers so they may attend training. WIOA requires state and local workforce boards to provide grants for job training only if boards consider that job to be “in-demand.” WIOA’s commitment to funding only “in-demand” jobs can help fill the 35,000 vacancies in the trucking industry. However, WIOA will only help fill these open positions if state workforce boards recognize that trucking jobs are filled locally, even though the company actually hiring drivers may be located outside of a state and/or will require drivers to regularly travel outside of the state.
Over the next 10 years, our nation is expected to face a driver shortage in excess of 239,000 drivers. Simply put, America needs more commercial drivers. In order to accomplish this, we need strong public investment to help those who are currently underemployed and unemployed into the commercial driving profession. CVTA believes all Governors should understand the importance of the growing truck driver shortage, understand that trucking jobs are local jobs despite the fact the hiring company may be out of state, and should ensure trucking is considered an “in-demand” occupation in their state so future drivers can use WIOA grants to attend truck driver training.
While the FMCSA has attempted to standardize state skills tests for commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs), to date FMCSA has failed to take the most obvious step towards ensuring examiner credibility and capability – requiring state examiners hold a CDL themselves. There is no federal regulation requiring an examiner to hold the license for which he or she is judging examinees. It is an obvious requirement that is followed by nearly every industry because it stresses the importance of the license itself, and ensures that examiners are adequately positioned to judge the qualifications of their applicants.
CVTA believes that the FMCSA should fix this oversight and make all skills examiners hold a CDL within 5 years.
All Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) applicants must pass a skills test before being issues a CDL. In many states, students who complete training face severe delay times after requesting to sit for their CDL skills test due to a lack of CDL testing locations and testing personnel. These severe and costly wait times are causing hardships for students, carriers, and schools alike.
In 2014, 22 Members of Congress requested the GAO investigate this problem. The GAO is currently conducting a study of delays in several states and CVTA anticipates a final report by July 2015.
Current Department of Transportation regulations allow states to determine how and where to skills test their CDL applicants. In many states, the government outsources this testing function to contracted third parties. In other states, the government does not outsource this testing function. CVTA members know that testing delays are hurting many students from entering the job market. In anticipation of the GAO report, CVTA believes the FMCSA should require states to reduce their delays to 7 days. Should a state fail to reduce testing times to within 7 days, the state should be required to offer Third Party Testing.