The Commercial Driver’s License - Brad Vaughn, Maverick Transportation

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The commercial driver’s license – the future of our entire industry depends upon it. Gone are the days of truck drivers being the “cowboys” of our highways. Sure, the modern driver must have the work ethic of those beloved cowboys, but must also possess many other attributes. With the depleting infrastructure of our country, increased volume on our highways and massive regulatory changes (just to mention a few things), the modern driver must be very accomplished in all areas to become successful.

Whose responsibility is it to ensure that a driver is prepared to embark upon this new career path? The CDL school? The carriers who will eventually employee these drivers? The individual seeking the CDL? To speak quite candidly, few individuals seeking CDL licenses really even know what it takes to become a successful driver in this modern era. They entrust the CDL school to provide them with a solid foundation of knowledge to catapult their future in their new career choice. The carriers then assume the responsibility of “finishing” the job, by tailoring the CDL holder’s new found knowledge to their specific culture.

From a carrier’s perspective, we have an expectation that the schools are responsible to provide us CDL holders who have attained a certain competency level in all areas of driving, lifestyle and truck management skills (TMS). We anticipate being able to move forward with the “finishing” process, and not regress back to these basic principles. With that being said, I would like to share a few statistics to aid in communicating some of the areas in which we are finding deficiencies:

  • 30 out of 381, or about 8% had to completely repeat our entire TMS program. This includes map reading, trip planning, logging and time management/truck utilization skills.
  • 10% needed extra mapping help.
  • 68% needed extra logging assistance.
  • 5% needed additional truck management help.

At Maverick, we have a commitment to our over-the-road driver trainers to provide a CDL student who’s attained a certain educational level before they are ever placed in a trainer truck. As you can see from the above statistics, if we could see improvement in some of these basic areas, it would allow us to focus more of our time on the “finishing” process which includes truck technologies and other advancements that have been implemented to protect the driver and the motoring public.

With the average road time being 4 ½-5 weeks with a trainer to incorporate TMS skills, adding additional classroom time to teach basic principles has increased the student’s time away from home. This has created turnover and increased cost for the carriers, not to mention losing potential drivers from this career altogether.

Our culture at Maverick is to be committed to the individual. We do not look at students as a class. We focus on each and every perspective driver. We have an obligation to educate each individual so they will be successful for themselves and their families.

We believe we all have the same goals. We are dedicated to achieving these goals by continuing to partner with CVTA to educate & mold the future drivers who are so critical to our industry. We all must work together to teach and retain these outstanding drivers who serve this great country of ours each and every day.

Tips on Training - BJ Liebno, All-State Career

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BJ Liebno, a CVTA Senior Master Instructor with All-State Career, recently spoke with us to share some of her training tips. Her experience as an instructor over the past 18 years can provide a stepping stone for newer instructors, setting them up for success as their careers progress.

The first and most important thing to do is make the training fun. Students are more likely to retain information they enjoyed learning, and it helps to lead them into their careers with a more positive outlook. Instructors should make sure they get their students involved in the learning process. Group work is a reliable tool, as long as it is utilized properly. Work should be kept short to maximize retention. BJ suggests sticking to one or two tasks within 3-5 minute periods. Not only does this involve the students more fully in their learning process, it aids comprehension. If a student can adequately explain a process to someone else, and then have them successfully complete a related assignment, it shows that they have a solid grasp of the concepts being taught.

It is also important to make sure your lessons relate to real life. Students should be able to understand why they need to know the information. When something is relevant to an individual’s life, even in a basic way, they are more likely to absorb and retain the information being taught. In order to do this, it is important for instructors to be able to read their students. Not only will this create a channel between instructors and students that will make the teaching progress smoother, but it helps instructors recognize when their students are having trouble understanding the lesson. Make sure your students know that you’re willing to repeat things. Different students learn at different paces, and instructors must be aware of that in order to efficiently teach a group.

Instructors should also keep the class moving. Stagnation is the enemy. Getting side tracked with a long story not only takes the time from the lesson plan, but it damages information retention. BJ suggests using related short stories and anecdotes in order to strengthen the main objectives of the lesson plan. This requires instructors to stay up-to-date with their subject matter. In order to be a point of reference for their students, instructors must work to make sure that they are aware of all current happenings in their subject, in addition to knowing what’s happened in the past.

While it is key for instructors to strive to remain current on the latest developments in their area of expertise, having said that Instructors are still people and cannot know everything. There is no shame in saying “I don’t know.” Instead of side-stepping the question, BJ suggests instructors tell their students that they do not have the answer, but “let me write that down and I will find out.” This provides students with the knowledge that all questions are viable and it facilitates a smoother flow of information between students and instructors. As long as instructors have an answer by the next class, the students will be provided the information and as a side benefit the Instructors will be kept current and it will also ensure the Instructors keep as current as possible as well.

Having a plan is one of the cornerstones of success for instructors. In order to ensure their success, it helps to have all materials ready before their class starts. BJ suggests having more material to teach than there is time allotted. This way, you know you have a way of keeping the class moving should instructors finish their original lesson early. It also provides instructors extra resources if their students have questions they did not expect.

Finally, it is important for instructors to get to know their students on a professional level. This doesn’t necessarily mean going out for drinks with students after class, but instructors should be able to know why their students are attending their class and what motivates them to succeed. A basic knowledge of student competency is also important for instructional purposes - it is easier for instructors to adapt to the different learning levels and styles of their students if they are aware of the competency curve in their class.

Thank you BJ for your helpful tips. We hope that this information helps our instructors adapt to better teach their classes. This is a newsletter meant to help you, our instructors. In order to succeed we need to hear from you. We are also looking for more input from you. If you have any suggestions for an article, or have tips of your own, please contact Charlie KimThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..">. We thank you for your support, and we welcome any suggestions you may have for us.

CVTA Statement in Support of ELDTAC's Performance-Based Agreement

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Dear CVTA Members:

Two weeks ago, I sent you a memo outlining the various aspects of ELDTAC consensus agreement. Today, I want to share our official statement on why CVTA was proud to support the consensus opinion and, in particular, the vote on a performance-based rule with minimum hours. I am doing so in an effort to help correct some confusion by members who have inquired whether this rule is performance-based or hours-based. CVTA members may have seen various news headlines or talked to members who are calling the ELDTAC consensus opinion an "hours-based rule." This is not an accurate statement.

The ELDTAC consensus opinion is a performance-based rule, as all individuals will have to be certified by their training provider that they can competently perform the skills necessary as outlined by the new Model Curriculum. The ELDTAC also agreed that each training provider must also certify that the student/trainee completed a minimum of 30 academic hours (50 Mins.) of behind the wheel training as part of his or her training. The 30 academic hours is broken down as follows:

  • 10 academic hours on the range;
  • 10 academic hours on the road or 10 road trips (trip defined as 50 mins or more); and
  • 10 academic hours split between road or range. This is called "Flex time" as it is up to the institution to determine where the student/trainee should spend this time.

While the skills training must contain a minimum of 30 academic hours, individuals must be certified based on their actual performance. Therefore, while some students will no doubt be competent after 30 hours, many more will not be and our schools will have to continue to train, as nearly all do now, until that student is competent and ready to take his or her CDL exam.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

All the best-

Don Lefeve
President, CVTA

ELDTAC Achieves Consensus

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DATE: MAY 29, 2015

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.

United Truck Driving School Featured in KRA Monthly Spotlight

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Jordan, who aptly entitled the article Short Road To Success For The Long Haul, reported, “Brian Smith came to the Career Center, in November 2014, to pursue his career goal of becoming an interstate long-haul truck driver. Having relocated to San Diego from Montana, the year before, he realized that his series of ‘dead end’ jobs wasn’t working for him, even though he was working.”

Why was Brian so confident about a career in long-haul trucking?  He explained, “My father and brother are both truckers, mostly cattle haulers in the ‘Lower 48′, based out of Montana.  I would go on the road with my dad as a kid, so I know what it’s like and what it takes to be a long-haul trucker. He helped me develop a real passion for it... Continue reading...



CVTA Testifies Before California Senate Committee

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On April 14th, Don Lefeve (CVTA), Bob Schauer (Western Pacific Truck School) and Roger Smith (American Truck Schools), testified before the California Senate Transportation and Housing Committee on Senate Bill 344. Senate Bill 344 is a bill that would create driver training standards in California and close the “CDL mill loophole.” While CVTA is supportive of the goals of this legislation, Don, Bob, and Roger spoke about amending this legislation to expand skills testing to allow third party testers to help reduce the severe skills testing backlog in California. Current wait times are between 30-60 days currently. Retest times are the near the same time.

CVTA Participation in California Senate Hearing   CVTA Participation in California Senate Hearing
Watch the Full Senate Bill 344 Video   CVTA's Testimony Only

Truck Driver Shortage Means Thousands of Jobs Need to be Filled

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- A national shortage of truck drivers means companies are looking to fill tens of thousands of jobs in the coming years.


At the Tennessee Truck Driving School in Louisville, CDL Instructor Sean Henson said they typically train 400 to 500 new drivers every year. But that doesn't come close to filling the gap for what's needed.

Henson said there are several reasons for the shortage of drivers. The biggest is that the average age of current drivers is between 55 and 65 and more drivers retire every year than what come into the business. He also said that the improving economy means there is more stuff being built and nearly all that product is moved by trucks... Continue reading.