FMCSA Urged to Lift Standards for Training of Novice Drivers

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By Timothy Cama, Staff Reporter

This story appears in the April 1 print edition of Transport Topics.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Truck drivers and instructors told Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration officials they should mandate far more training for new drivers than currently required.

Many of the two dozen or so speakers at a listening session here were in agreement that too many driver training programs teach only basic skills and put drivers out on the road too quickly, which is hurting the entire industry’s image.

There was, however, no exact consensus on what the proper number of training hours should be.

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For-Hire Motor Carriers Asked To Participate In Operational Costs Survey

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Arlington, VA – The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) today launched a survey to update the 2012 Operational Costs of Trucking report.  The brief on-line survey seeks to capture basic cost information from for-hire carriers such as driver pay, fuel costs, insurance premiums and lease or purchase payments.  Carriers are asked to provide full year 2012 cost per mile and/or cost per hour data.

The results of this survey, combined with the previous Operational Costs of Trucking reports, will yield five full years (2008 – 2012) of trucking cost information derived directly from fleet operations.  This research provides carriers with an important high-level benchmarking tool and government agencies with real world data for future infrastructure improvement analyses.

The operational cost data that for-hire motor carriers provide will be kept strictly confidential.  The survey is available online at and results will be available later this year.

Carriers Struggle to Find, Hire Willing, Qualified Drivers

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SELLERSBURG — It’s hard to find good help these days, and no one knows it better than Brandon Briscoe.

Briscoe is vice president of sales and operations at Talon Logistics, a Sellersburg-based trucking company. Talon first hit the road in 2003, and it now has about 120 employees. It could have a lot more, though.

Talon is just one of numerous area trucking companies with open positions it can’t fill because of a lack of willing, qualified candidates.

“We’re always having trouble finding quality drivers,” Briscoe said.

Across the state, 1,200 open trucking positions remain unfilled, while between 20,000 and 25,000 drivers are needed nationally, Barry Miller, director of safety for the Indiana Motor Truck Association, recently told the South Bend Tribune. An American Trucking Association study released this year claims that 90 percent of for-hire truckload carriers cannot find enough drivers who are capable of meeting Department of Transportation requirements.

And for companies like Talon, simply meeting DOT requirements isn’t enough, which further complicates the search.

“We’re pretty strict on our regulations on who we’re going to get — to get a guy who can really give the service you want to portray and represent your company out there,” Briscoe said. “It makes it kind of difficult right now, and it seems to get tougher and tougher each month to get that. I mean, capacity on the whole has really tightened up, especially in the last few weeks.”

Jeffersonville-based Mr. “P” Express is taking a proactive approach to finding drivers. It offers a 160-hour training course that prepares new drivers for entry-level trucking positions, and it’s not shy about trying to get the word out.

“We recruit drivers through television, through newsprint, through word of mouth — various means to get people who are unemployed, who are displaced through attrition or companies downsizing,” said Mr. “P” President Cindy Collier. “You’d be surprised at the people we have who come through the school that simply don’t have work and they decide, ‘You know what? I’m going to drive a truck.’

“We’ve worked with the folks at Fort Knox trying to get veterans in here. We’re interested in getting veterans in here, but we train our own drivers, and that’s our means of combating the shortage.”


The fact of the matter is that trucking isn’t a glamorous profession, Collier admits. Add that to the fact that a large number of drivers are approaching retirement age, and you’ve got a recipe for a shortage.

“We’ve got all of these thousands of drivers that are ready to retire, and then the younger generation is just not taking hold and deciding they want to be in the trucking industry. And it is a very hard life. It’s hard physically on drivers — the sleep patterns, the eating on the road.”

Briscoe agreed, adding that time away from friends and family can lead to burnout among younger drivers, which leads his company to lean more and more on partner carriers to pick up the slack. Combating turnover has been the key to minimizing the pain of the shortage, Briscoe said.

“Once a guy gets with us they typically stay because we have more of a family atmosphere and really try to appeal to their needs and the way they want to be treated,” he said. “So when you get a guy, you can’t lose guys. The best way to not [hurt] your business is keep who you hire and then when you add new people, make it an appealing opportunity for them to stay.”

And that means working with the truckers. Mr. “P” Express and Talon offer home time to their drivers, and both give the option of working over-the-road hauls or staying close to home.


A truck driver can make anywhere from $35,000 to $80,000 a year, dependent on the driver’s willingness to take long hauls. But the money alone isn’t attracting drivers, and DOT regulations on operators is making the squeeze even more painful, Collier said.

“I have some of my customers that say to me, ‘You’ve been telling us the driver shortage was critical forever. Don’t you have a new song and dance?’” Collier said. “But the fact of the matter is, it really is critical, and the more and more stipulations that the government puts in place on us with the regulations, the hours and so forth, it just makes it that much harder, because we need more drivers than ever now because of the new regulations that are in place.”

And that hurts everyone in the end, she said.

“The shortage, people do not believe or understand that it is affecting everyone, because when you look around — when you walk into Walmart, everything that you see in there was trucked in there. That’s how it got there,” she said.

J. J. Keller announces three new online interactive training programs

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Neenah, WI – J. J. Keller & Associates Inc.® has launched three new interactive online training courses – Hazmat Endorsement Practice Test, Cargo Securement: Dry Vans and Hours of Service Canada. These self-paced training courses are available anytime and anywhere there is an internet connection, tailoring the training experience to the user’s availability.

The Hazmat Endorsement Practice Test helps drivers prepare for the Hazmat Endorsement CDL test. It includes questions that closely mimic the actual test and explanations for incorrect responses. It features randomized questions that eliminate memorization and enhance learning.

Cargo Securement Dry Van features up-to-date training for dry van cargo securement based on the regulations and industry best practices. The course covers the key concepts and regulations for the loading and securing of all types of cargo in dry vans. This course is also available on CD-ROM.

HOS Canada features up-to-date training that helps drivers operating in Canada comply with Canadian Hours of Service requirements. It covers key concepts and practices including the hows and whys of Canada’s HOS regulations, along with topics including daily maximums, off-duty requirements, and weekly cycles. The course also features practical exercises that outline the rules and procedures and animated logging examples and worksheets that take drivers through the completion process.
To enroll in these courses, visit

About J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc.®
Since its beginning as a one-man consulting firm in 1953, J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc.® has grown to become the most respected name in safety and regulatory compliance. Now over 1,200 associates strong, J. J. Keller serves over 350,000 customers — including 90% of the Fortune 1000. The company's subject matter expertise spans nearly 1,500 topics and its diverse solutions include interactive and online training, online management tools, managed services, advisory services, publications, forms and supplies.

J. J. Keller helps transportation professionals build a smarter compliance program through its vast selection of transport-specific products and services, from E-logs and mobile technology to on-demand training and fleet management systems. For more information, visit visit
For more information, contact:
Mary Borsecnik
Corporate Marketing Communications Specialist
J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc.®
1-800-843-3174, ext. 7050
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Trucks Transported 59% of US-NAFTA trade in 1/13

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Department of Transportation sent this bulletin at 03/27/2013 11:00 AM EDT
BTS 14-13
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Contact: Dave Smallen
Tel: 202-366-5568
BTS Releases North American Trade Numbers by Mode of Transportation for January

Releases now include air and vessel information in addition to surface transportation; trucks transported 59% of U.S.-NAFTA trade in January 2013

Trucks carried 59.3 percent of the $90.5 billion in trade in January 2013 between the United States and its North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) partners, Canada and Mexico, followed by rail at 14.3 percent, vessels at 9.8 percent, pipelines at 8.1 percent and air at 3.8 percent, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) of the U.S. Department of Transportation. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 81.7 percent of the total NAFTA trade.

BTS, a part of the Department’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration, reported that in January 2013, for trade between the United States and Canada, trucks carried 53.1 percent of the $51.0 billion in trade, followed by rail at 16.2 percent, pipelines at 13.9 percent, vessels at 6.1 percent and air at 4.4 percent. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 83.1 percent of the total U.S.-Canada trade.

In U.S. trade with Mexico in January 2013, trucks carried 67.4 percent of the $39.5 billion in trade, followed by vessels at 14.5 percent, rail at 11.8 percent, air at 3.1 percent and pipelines at 0.7 percent. The surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline carried 79.9 percent of the total U.S.-Mexico trade.

BTS monthly TransBorder press releases, beginning with January 2013 data, now contain data for air and vessel. Previous press releases defined surface modes as: truck, rail, pipeline, and other and unknown modes. Beginning with this press release, “other and unknown” modes are not being grouped with surface transportation. Data on surface modes can be found in the press release in Figure 3 and in Tables 2, 4 and 7.

The value of U.S. trade with its NAFTA partners by all modes of transportation in January rose 66.6 percent from January 2009, during the last recession. From January 2004, the first month that TransBorder freight data included air and vessel modes, the value of U.S. trade by all modes of transportation with its NAFTA partners increased by 76.5 percent to January 2013. Imports in January 2013 were up 66.5 percent since January 2004, while exports were up 90.3 percent.

Commercial Driver's License Testing and Commercial Learner's Permit Standards

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[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 57 (Monday, March 25, 2013)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 17875-17882]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office []
[FR Doc No: 2013-06760]
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
49 CFR Parts 383 and 384
[Docket No. FMCSA-2007-27659]
RIN 2126-AB59

Commercial Driver's License Testing and Commercial Learner's Permit Standards
AGENCY: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), DOT.
ACTION: Final rule.
SUMMARY: FMCSA amends its May 9, 2011, final rule in response to certain petitions for reconsideration. The 2011 final rule amended the commercial driver's license (CDL) knowledge and skills testing standards and established new minimum Federal standards for States to issue the commercial learner's permit (CLP). The Agency received 34 petitions for reconsideration that covered a wide range of issues. FMCSA granted or denied each of these petitions, by orders available in the docket referenced at the beginning of this notice. Today's final rule addresses the petitions that were granted.

DATES: This final rule is effective on April 24, 2013.

Legislative Report - 3.25.2013 - Senate Restores TA for Military Students in FY 2013 Continuing Resolution

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H.R. 933 - the Fiscal Year 2013 Continuing Resolution

On March 21, 2013, the Senate passed H.R. 933, the Fiscal Year 2013 Continuing Resolution, which would fund the federal government through September 30, 2013. An amendment offered by Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) Ranking Member Jim Inhofe (R-OK) and Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC), which repeals the termination of Tuition Assistance (TA) under sequestration and prevents the program's funds from being decreased below the amount provided in the underlying legislation was included in the final version. You may recall that the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC), Army (USA), Air Force (USAF), and Coast Guard (USCG) suspended new enrollments in the TA program in response to an internal U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) memo circulated to the service branches identifying TA as a potential program to cut under the sequestration; the Navy has yet to make a similar announcement. H.R. 933 now returns to the House for final consideration before proceeding to the President. The House leadership has indicated that H.R. 933 will pass with ease.