TO: CVTA MEMBERS
FROM: DON LEFEVE, PRESIDENT
SUBJECT: ENTRY LEVEL DRIVER TRAINING
DATE: MAY 29, 2015
CC: CVTA BOARD OF DIRECTORS
For the past 24 years, the federal government has sought to establish minimum training requirements for entry-level drivers seeking a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). Despite numerous federal laws requiring the establishment of such requirements and several attempts by the Department of Transportation, these previous efforts have failed to produce a viable regulation.
At the beginning of the year, CVTA secured a position on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Entry Level Driver Training Advisory Committee (ELDTAC). CVTA’s carrier/schools, Stevens Transport, was also appointed to the ELDTAC. This select group of 26 industry stakeholders was tasked with formulating minimum requirements for pre-CDL training programs. Starting in February 2015, the ELDTAC met regularly in order to determine what knowledge and skills all future Class A & B CDL holders should know and demonstrate before sitting for the CDL skills exam.
I am proud to announce that the ELDTAC has come to consensus on minimum training requirements, and even more proud to say that I believe such requirements will be beneficial for both our members and our industry. Though the agreed-upon rule still faces challenges and hurdles ahead, I write to you now in order to provide you with an overview of the agreed upon rule, CVTA’s views on it, and of the next steps that will be taken as we move towards the Agreement’s adoption.
I. The Basics of ELDTAC Agreement
The ELDTAC’s agreed upon rule for minimum entry-level driver training requirements (the “ELDTAC Agreement” or “the Agreement”) will serve as the basis of a rulemaking the FMCSA will publish this fall. The Agreement’s major tenants will require each Class A Pre-CDL training provider to do the following:
- Administer a performance-based knowledge and skills curriculum, which must cover the topics contained in the core curriculum created by the ELDTAC and provide no less than 30 hours of behind the wheel training (10 academic hours road, 10 academic hours range, and 10 academic hours flex);
- Sign up for the FMCSA’s National Registry of Training Providers. Registration will be contingent on approval by FMCSA and must be completed prior to administering training (CVTA schools and others (including PDTI, NAPFTDS, and accredited schools) will be considered initially approved on the national registry);
- Certify that their trainees have been taught both the knowledge and skills portions of the core curriculum and are competent drivers based on their performance; and
- Send their student/trainee certifications to the FMCSA/SDLAs before a student/trainee can sit for the CDL skills test.
*Please note that ELDTAC also approved a Class B Curriculum, requiring 15 hours of BTW with a minimum of 7 hours on the road. ELDTAC also approved specific curriculums for HazMat and Passenger Endorsements.
II. CVTA’s views on the ELDTAC Agreement
CVTA is proud of the ELDTAC Agreement. We believe that this Agreement is a win for driver training programs, the trucking industry, and the safety of our roads – the rule is performance-based, and unlike the proposed 2007 rule, does not mandate overall programmatic hours or accreditation.
Since 2007, CVTA has supported a performance-based approach to training. Under the ELDTAC Agreement, training providers will have to certify that their students/trainees are competent drivers and that their students have been instructed in both knowledge and skills topics as set forth by the ELDTAC core curriculum. While the Agreement does require a minimum of 30 hours of behind the wheel training, this will not impact CVTA member schools, which are already required to exceed this amount of training time.
Finally, this Agreement will increase the safety of our roads by making it much harder for CDL mills to operate. The Agreement’s minimum training requirements demand that CDL mills either shape up or shut down, and its use of third party validators – including CVTA – will help the FMCSA to police the industry on an ongoing basis.
We are thrilled to put forth an Agreement that implements a carefully crafted set of driver training regulations, which dramatically increase safety standards for our industry while ensuring that legitimate programs currently in operation are not overburdened by unnecessary or ineffective training requirements.
III. Next Steps – Remaining Hurdles for the ELDTAC Agreement
Though the ELDTAC has achieved consensus on the major tenants of the proposed regulation, the FMCSA still has much work to do before the ELDTAC Agreement is officially implemented. A brief overview of these hurdles is outlined below.
First, the FMCSA will need to draft the actual language of the proposed rule based upon the ELDTAC Agreement. This proposed rule, which is set for publication on or before October 15, 2015, will articulate the same basic tenants of the ELDTAC Agreement, which are described in the previous section.
In addition to drafting the actual text of the proposed rule, the FMCSA will also need to provide a regulatory impact analysis, as it does with every proposed rule. Though the requirements of these laws vary, all of them essentially require the FMCSA to show that this rule is well thought-out and not unnecessarily burdensome or costly.
Finally, once the proposed rule is published, it will follow traditional notice and comment procedures during which outside groups will be able to comment on the draft language. The FMCSA will then read through and incorporate these comments into the finalized version of the rule.
While CVTA is pleased with the proposed rule, and confident that it will clear OMB, largely survive the notice and comment period in its current form, and withstand judicial scrutiny, we want members to understand that the ELDTAC agreement has many hurdles ahead, and will not take effect for several more years.
The remaining hurdles notwithstanding, we are extremely pleased with the rule that ELTAC has agreed upon and consider it an incredible win for the trucking industry, for the safety of our roads, and for our members.
Should you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact Don Lefeve or Alice Smith at 703-642-9444.