2016 Mike O'Connell Top Rookie of the Year Winner Announced

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Announced during an award ceremony on August 26 at the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas, Werner Driver, Christopher Crowell, who attended CDS Tractor Trailer Training was named the Top Rookie of the Year.

Named in honor of the late CVTA Executive Director Mike O'Connell, this award recognizes the best truck driver who has been on the job for less than a year.

We would also like to congratulate the nine finalists for their excellent work as well:

  • Mario Cardenas of TMC Transportation (Roadmaster Drivers School)
  • Brian College of Carbon Express, Inc. (Commercial Drivers School)
  • Brandon Douglas of Melton Truck Lines, Inc. (American Truck Training)
  • Shawna Froehlich of Dartco, Inc. (Heavy Metal Truck Training)
  • Dave Honbarger of Maverick Transportation, Inc. (TransTech)
  • Willis Robinson of Cargo Transporters, Inc. (Future Truckers of America)
  • Kenneth Strother of Stevens Transport (Diesel Driving Academy)
  • Marc Walther of Wil-Trans (Northeast Technical Institute)
  • Kenneth Youmans of Dutch Maid Logistics (Professional Drivers Academy)

The Trucking's Top Rookie of the Year award is a partnership between Truckers News, the Truckload Cariers Association, Commercial Vehicle Training Association (CVTA), Rand McNally, Pilot Flying J, Progressive Commercial Insurance, National Association of Publicly Funded Driving Schools, American Trucking Associations and the Red Eye Radio Network.

CVTA congratulates the winner and the finalists for all their hard work and continued success as professional truck drivers.

CVTA Legislative and Regulatory Update - April 21, 2016

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House Holds Roundtable Discussion of Fast Act’s Trucking-Related Provisions

Last Wednesday, the Highways and Transit Subcommittee of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, held a roundtable policy discussion focusing on the implementation of Title V of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. Participants of the roundtable included, in addition to members of the Subcommittee: Bill Quade of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA); Dave Osiecki, of the American Trucking Associations (ATA); Todd Spencer, of Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA); Bill Blankenship, of Greyhound Lines, Inc.; Collin Mooney, of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA); and Cathy Chase, of Advocates for Highways and Auto Safety.

Title V contains the motor carrier provisions of the FAST Act, including numerous provisions that are of particular importance to our members. To name a few, Title V includes the requirement that the FMCSA provide an annual report on CDL testing delay times in each state (Section 5506), a requirement that DOT create a pilot program to study the feasibility of allowing certain veterans between ages 18 and 21 drive commercial motor vehicles interstate (Section 5404), a provision allowing motor carriers to use hair testing as an acceptable alternative to urine testing (Section 5402), and a provision requiring FMCSA to prioritize the completion of the Entry-Level Driver Training Rule (Section 5302). Title V also contains numerous provisions aimed at deregulating the industry while maintaining safety on U.S. roads.

Though much of the discussion focused on how FMCSA uses data to regulate the trucking industry, participants also discussed FMCSA’s proposed entry-level driver training rule, as well as the driver shortage.

Specifically, ATA and most other participants expressed their support for the FAST Act’s requirement that FMCSA prioritize certain rulemakings – including entry-level driver training standards – before moving on to other proposed rules. (CVSA, however, expressed concern that a requirement that FMCSA prioritize these more controversial rulemakings before moving on to others would prevent or delay completion of others.) Cathy Chase, of Advocates for Highways and Auto Safety, expressed her support for the “long-overdue” entry-level driver training rule and its requirement that new drivers complete a minimum amount of behind-the-wheel training hours. Ms. Chase explained that the minimum number of requisite hours agreed upon during negotiations – 30 – was agreed upon with all members at the table. When explaining why, she stated that “if you talk to a person outside of this room” and tell that that the minimum entry-level driver training requirement has no actual behind-the-wheel requirement, “they’ll think you’re crazy.” Todd Spencer, of OOIDA, also touched on the importance of the rule when describing his concerns that many of FMCSA’s extensive regulations do not actually produce safety. He pointed out that extensive enforcement proposals abound, but this entry-level driver training rule marks the “first time ever [that] we are actually going to require a driver to have some meager primitive experience operating that truck.” Ms. Chase also expressed her support for the proposed rule’s establishment of a national registry of approved training providers, which she said would address the problem of CDL mills.

Industry leaders and members of congress also touched on the national driver shortage and expressed a general agreement that there should be some sort of effort to look into this issue in more detail, including the ways that improving retention rates could help to address the shortage.

U.S. Assistant Attorney General for National Security Warns that Internet Connected Cars Could be Targets for Hackers

According to an April 13, 2016 Washington Post Article, John Carlin, U.S. Assistant Attorney General for National Security, spoke last week about his concerns regarding the extent to which internet-connected cars are vulnerable to hackers. Carlin, who was speaking at an auto industry conference in Detroit, stated in reference to internet-connected and driverless cars that “[t]here is no Internet-connected system where you can build a wall that’s high enough or deep enough to keep a dedicated nation-state adversary or a sophisticated criminal group out of the system."

To read the story in full, click here.

American Transportation Research Institute Launches Commercial Driver Survey To Gather Information on Sleep Apnea

According to an April 14, 2016 press release issued by the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI), the organization has begun work on “Understanding the Impacts of Sleep Apnea on Commercial Drivers,” which ATRI’s Research Advisory Committee identified as one of its top research priorities for 2016.

As one of the first steps in this research, ATRI has launched an online survey, which seeks input from commercial drivers “on their perspectives, personal experiences, and knowledge of sleep apnea.” The survey also “solicits information on sleep apnea assessments and treatments that drivers may have received, as well as the perceived effectiveness of those treatments.”

The online version of the survey will be available through mid-May and can be found here.

FMCSA Requests Comments Regarding Missouri’s Application for Limited Exemption from Federal CDL Requirements

The Missouri Department of Revenue (Missouri DOR) has submitted a request for a limited exemption from FMCSA’s requirement that drivers pass the general knowledge test before being issued a Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP). Specifically, the Missouri DOR would like FMCSA to exempt certain qualified veterans who participated in dedicated training (i.e. trained military truck drivers) from the requirement that these drivers take and pass the knowledge test in order to obtain their CLP.

Among its arguments in favor of this exemption, the Missouri DOR maintains that this exemption is appropriate because “qualified veterans who have participated in dedicated training in approved military programs have already received numerous hours of classroom training, practical skills training, and one-on-one road training that are essential for safe driving.”

To read FMCSA’s notice in full, or to submit a comment, please click here.

Despite Concerns from Some Industry Leaders, NHTSA Moves Forward with Six Month Plan to Develop Regulations for Autonomous Vehicles

The Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) continues to move forward with its development of federal guidelines for automated cars. As part of DOT’s efforts to publish draft regulations for automated cars by July of this year, NHTSA announced that it would hold a series of public hearings meant to “gather information on a series of issues related to safe operation of automated vehicles.”

The first of these public hearings was held on April 8 of this year. Though some automakers expressed concerns regarding the aggressive timetable for the development of these regulations in April’s public hearing, NHTSA representatives defended the six month plan, pointing to the fact that, absent regulations, “people are going to just keep putting stuff on the road with no guidance on how we do this the right way.”

NHTSA is now moving forward with the second of its two scheduled hearings, announcing last week that its second hearing would be held on April 27, 2016 in Stanford, California. According to its official announcement, NHTSA is seeking input from the public “on those aspects of automated vehicle (AV) systems that would benefit from operational guidelines.”

To register for this hearing or to find out more, please click here.

Congressman Steve Russell (R-OK) Visits American Truck Training, Inc. in Oklahoma City

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As part of our ongoing effort to build relationships with key lawmakers on Capitol Hill, CVTA runs a campus tours program, in which we invite lawmakers to visit a CVTA school in their district. These visits educate them on how commercial drivers are trained and how the industry works to get students good jobs.

This is precisely what Jerome Redmond, President of American Truck Training, did when he was on Capitol Hill for CVTA’s Hill Day last month. As you can see below, Congressman Steve Russell accepted Jerome’s invitation and visited American Truck Training’s campus in Oklahoma City last week.

Jerome said the visit provided him with an opportunity to speak with the Congressman directly regarding problems relating to CDL testing inconsistencies and the need to expand third-party testing in the State. An invaluable opportunity to say the least!

CVTA’s Campus Tours Program is designed to connect CVTA members with legislators so that our member schools can educate and build strong relationships with lawmakers. These tours help lawmakers understand just how important CVTA member schools are to their districts, to motor carriers, and beyond. Tours provide real life examples of how driver training schools are able to connect individuals with the skills they need to obtain well-paying jobs that are in-demand across the country and crucial to the economy.

We hope you will consider participating in CVTA’s campus tours program this August and will follow-up as the summer approaches. If you have any questions about the program, please contact Alice Smith at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Taking Membership Service to the Next Level

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By Larry Marsh, Chairman, Member Services Committee

The Member Services committee is primarily responsible for overseeing CVTA’s Instructor Certification Program (ICP) and also overseeing additional programs and services which enrich a CVTA Members’ experience in our Association. Our committee has been doing a lot of work behind the scenes that I think will serve all members moving forward.

ICP Update

Since last year, the Committee has been reviewing our current ICP program’s content and delivery method.  While the content is still very relevant, the committee believes that our members deserve fresh content delivered via an on-line format. To this end, we are in negotiations to update the ICP program. Our mission remains to provide our schools and instructors with a first class training program to improve their teaching skills, which embraces the latest content and presentation.   

We have asked ten Senior Master Instructors to review the first 10 courses of the prospective new ICP content. Once the instructors complete their evaluation, we will then review the results of the evaluations to determine if this new content should replace our current ICP program.  At this point, we are optimistic we have a viable program that will meet the needs of your school and your instructors.  

I would like to thank those instructors who have volunteered to evaluate the courses, in advance. It is a time consuming and important job.

Roundtables and Best Practices

CVTA will once again conduct it “Roundtables” session at the Spring Conference in San Juan, PR. For those who didn’t participate last time, the Roundtable are interactive sessions where members get together to engage one another on diverse set of topics. For example, it will ask school, motor carrier, and associate members to discuss a range of subjects from training, marketing, job placement, etc. This was a big hit in Memphis and numerous members told me that it was the best session of the conference. We will again be conducting the Roundtable sessions in San Juan, but it will be slightly more focused.

The purpose of the Roundtables is to identify those best practices and publish these best practices later this fall. Our members have a great deal of expertise and experience to better aid all institutions, training, safety, and most importantly, our students. In this effort, I encourage members, who are willing to lend their expertise, to participate in the creation of the Best Practices. Specifically, the Best Practices to specifically address issues which they are seeing, problems, opportunities, but also ask specific details on the following topics to identify best practices. The topics are:

  • Accounting/Finance
  • Admissions/Recruiting
  • IT
  • Equipment Maintenance
  • HR/Legal/Compliance
  • Safety Awareness
  • Community Relations/PR
  • Instruction and Assessment
  • Career Services/Placement

We are in the process of forming subcommittees to discuss the above issues. If you have suggestions for the committee to consider, or if you are willing to help serve on a subcommittee, please let Don or Cindy know.

During our Roundtable sessions at the Spring Conference we would like to focus a portion of the discussion on three of the nine areas:  Instruction/Assessment, Career Services, and Admissions/Recruitment. We will be sending detailed questions so all participants can think through the questions and provide meaningful input.   

We look forward to a great conference in San Juan and great ideas from the round table discussions for the “Best Practices”.

Rulemaking Summaries

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(1) Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) establishing minimum training requirements for Entry-Level Drivers Published on Monday, March 7.

On Monday, March 7 the Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration published its long-awaited Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) establishing minimum training requirements for Entry Level Drivers. The NPRM will require all future driver trainees for Class A & B CDLs, and certain endorsements, to complete a structured training program from a training provider registered and approved by the FMCSA. Each approved provider's program must teach curriculum topics as outlined in the NPRM, and teach range and road behind the wheel (BTW) portions prior to sitting for the CDL skills exam. While the BTW portion requires a minimum of 30 BTW hours, each student is ultimately judged on their individual performance or outcome by a certified BTW instructor. Therefore, while some students will be able to execute specific skills within this time frame, others will not. As such, the school and instructor will certify a student only when he or she is able to demonstrate the necessary skills proficiency.

CVTA schools are already teaching the required subjects and teaching more BTW hours than required by this NPRM. While this rule will have little to no impact on CVTA schools or other quality training programs, which maintain high standards, this NPRM is a win for safety and for quality training providers. We believe that requiring all future CDL holders to have training as outlined in this NPRM, will make our highways safer. We will be doing all that we can to ensure the NPRM is finalized in the form as written and agreed to by all 26 members of the ELDTAC. If you are thinking about commenting or have any questions about this proposed rule, please contact CVTA staff. To view the notice in its entirety, please click here.

(2) Notice of Application for Exemption from Bond Requirement for Third-Party CDL Testers Submitted by Idaho Transportation Department Published on Wednesday, March 9.

On Wednesday, March 9, FMCSA published a notice and request for comments regarding an application for exemption from the FMCSA’s requirement that Third-Party CDL Testers initiate and maintain a bond in an amount determined by the state. This bond is meant to cover the costs of any re-testing of drivers should the third party tester or any of its examiners be found to have been involved in fraudulent activities related to conducting CDL skills tests. This application for exemption was submitted by the Idaho Transportation Department (IDT). The IDT argues, among other things, that this bond obligation creates an unnecessary financial hardship in light of the fact that their Third-Party CDL examiners only conduct a few CDL tests each month and earn only $60 per test. ITD also notes that the State of Idaho’s Third-Party Testing organizations have had no instances of fraud. ITD also notes that it continues to use the Commercial Skills Test Management System (CSTIMS) to monitor CDL skills test examiners. Comments must be submitted on or before April 8, 2016. To view this notice in its entirety, click here.

(3) Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Regarding Obstructive Sleep Apnea Published on Thursday, March 10.

On Thursday, March 10, the FMCSA (in partnership with the Federal Railroad Administration) also published an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in which it requests data and information regarding (1) the prevalence of moderate-to-severe Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) among individuals occupying safety sensitive positions in highway and rail transportation and (2) the potential consequences of OSA’s prevalence for the safety of rail and highway transportation.

As many of you know, there has been enormous confusion surrounding how medical examiners should screen drivers for OSA. This confusion has caused countless healthy drivers to pay hundreds of dollars for additional OSA tests – and to have their licenses revoked or suspended absent their ability to pay for these tests.

The publication of this advanced rulemaking marks the first step towards creating a sleep apnea rule for the trucking industry which could clarify this ongoing confusion. Comments regarding this rule must be submitted on or before June 8, 2016. To read the notice in its entirety, click here.

(4) Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to amend its Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) regulations for certain military personnel.

On March 16, the FMCSA published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) which proposes to extend the time period for applying for a skills test waiver from 90 days to 1 year after leaving a military position requiring the operation of a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV).

The FMCSA believes this NPRM would ease the current burdens on military personnel applying for CLPs and CDLs issued by a State Driver Licensing Agency (SDLA) in accordance with 49 CFR parts 383 and 384 in two ways. First, it would extend the time in which former military personnel are allowed to apply for a skills test waiver from the 90 days currently allowed by 49 CFR 383.77 to 1 year. On July 8, 2014, FMCSA issued a temporary exemption under 49 CFR part 381 that extended the skills test waiver to 1 year [79 FR 38659]. [1] The change proposed by this rulemaking would make the 1-year waiver period permanent. Second, this NPRM would allow States to accept applications and administer all necessary tests for a CLP or CDL from active duty service members stationed in that State who are operating in a Military Occupational Specialty as full-time CMV drivers. States that choose to exercise this option would be required to transmit the application and test results electronically to the service member's State of domicile. This would enable service members to complete their licensing requirements without incurring the time and expense of returning home. The State of domicile would be required to issue the CLP or CDL in accordance with otherwise applicable procedures.

Comments are due on or before May 16, 2016. To read the notice in its entirety, click here.