Driver Shortage Vs. Driver Safety


We are all aware of the commercial driver shortage in the United States.  The trucking industry is primarily composed of people aged 45 and older, 1.  In order to compensate for the shortage, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) proposed a pilot program to lower the required CDL age from 21 to 18, 2.  Currently, there are 48 states that allow drivers to obtain a CDL at the age of 18, but federal regulations prevent them from crossing state lines until 21, 3.

The majority of early commenters are rejecting this proposal for safety reasons, 2.  The trucking industry is full of regulations and provisions to keep not only the CDL drivers safe, but also other drivers on the roadways.  The Commercial Vehicle Training Association (CVTA) is releasing a three-part guidance publication, “Entry-Level Driver Training: Compliance Guide,” to provide member schools the knowledge and support needed to comply with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT) regulation, 4.  As of February 7, 2020, anyone seeking their Class A CDL, Class B CDL, or certain endorsements, will need to be instructed by an approved training provider who complies with ELDT’s federal curriculum requirements.

Will these regulations change the opinions of the early commenters?  This new compliance program that the CVTA is providing will give members the opportunity to identify and modify any gaps in their curriculum to better prepare future drivers and ensure their success, 4.  This may open the possibility that even though a driver is 18, they can be just as prepared as a 21-year-old driver.  The training itself would be more thorough.

The new “Entry-Level Driver Training: Compliance Guide” has three parts to better prepare our drivers and keep everyone safe:

Entry-Level Driving Training

The first part of the guide will discuss the general requirements of the curriculum sections necessary.  Next, it will summarize important provisions of the rule regarding inclusion and removal from the Training Provider Registry and describes various recordkeeping practices and certification submission timelines.  Lastly, it will include a definition section, 4.

Entry-Level Driver Training: Best Practices

This section gathers the lessons learned from the CVTA Pilot Program and provides ten useful best practices to assist members in saving time and money. This section will include curriculum mapping, data collation, and tracking student hours, among others. This section will also show the estimated time it will take for the new requirements to be administered, 4.

Entry-Level Driver Training: Forms

The last section provides functional documents that follow the rule and provide sections for members to input relevant information.  These forms will include numerous data capture points and will serve a checklist for members interested in understanding what records they possess, where they are located, and importantly, what information they still need to acquire or refresh, 4.

The main concern of the trucking industry is safety for all people involved of course. There are people concerned that 18 is too young to have the responsibility of being a commercial truck driver, while others believe that the training of the driver is what determines whether or not they are responsible enough.  The more difficult task at hand is trying to make truck driving more interesting to the next generation, regardless of age.