Hit the Books: Changes to Driver Training Requirements
As the governmental wheels turn, changes to regulations roll out and are hauled back. While some regulations have a small impact, when it comes to trucking, even the smallest change can affect millions of drivers.
One rule to be aware of, set to take effect in February 2020, sets national minimum-training standards for entry-level applicants seeking CDLs or certain endorsements. The big change impacting operators is that this rule would require applicants to demonstrate proficiency in classroom training and behind-the-wheel training on a ‘driving range’ and a public road. This rule will apply to both first-time applicants and current CDL holder seeking to upgrade or obtain endorsements to transport hazardous goods or operate a motor coach or school bus.
While proponents of this rule change say it will improve safety and professionalism on the job, operators and carriers have their concerns. First and foremost, training is likely to be expensive. Training provider must register with the FMCSA and must deliver the required curriculum. This additional cost to enter the industry could affect the supply of drivers.
Carriers also worry that with the regulation treating current CDL holders the same as new drivers will waste time or limit upgrades. While the regulation does not require current CDL holders to attend a complete new driver classroom training, industry experts point out that training for upgrades is a much smaller market, so training providers likely won’t offer separate courses. Current CDL holders would then have to attend a new driver course.
Regulation changes often make drivers and employers nervous, expecting restrictions and limitations that can damage their business. But change doesn’t have to be a bad thing. In fact, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) estimates that the hours of service changes will provide $274 million in savings for the US economy. And that’s something we can all appreciate.