Earlier this year we wrote a series of stories about the federal government’s efforts to regulate the training of commercial motor vehicle (CMV) operators. For 28 years, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has attempted to standardize training requirements for entry level drivers (ELDT).
We Need Safer Roads, But...
There have been several heated conversations from trucking industry leaders, educators and safety advocates on what is a sufficient standard that will actually keep our roadways safer. Everyone agrees that implementing something to reduce accidents would be a good thing, but there are many opinions on how it should be done. Suggestions have ranged from enforcing stricter testing procedures by demonstrating performance based standards to an actual set number of hours that an individual must complete before obtaining their commercial driver’s license (CDL), as well as where and how the training can be performed.
On September 19th, 2013 the proposed federal rule was withdrawn because of over 700 comments sent to FMCSA stating several major concerns on how the ruling would negatively affect the industry. Protestors stated that the proposed ruling would do little to improve safety as requested by the federal courts.
The proposed rule may not have become law but the issue is far from dead. So here we go again. FMCSA is going back to the drawing board to research how safety can be measured among all drivers and what ruling can they implement to ensure the roadways will be safer.
Beyond the CDL Knowledge & Skills Test
[ic-r]The Eagle Ford Shale in South Texas has energized the Texas economy and provided many high paying jobs. The majority of them require a CDL. To get one you have to take knowledge and skills tests. To pass them requires a little preparation. Individuals seeking employment in the Eagle Ford are preparing for their CDL tests with training at truck driving schools at their local colleges, private for-profit schools or in company training programs. Some use self-guided study paired with borrowing Uncle John’s truck.
You may find a school or company offering “training” that seems quick and easy. You’ll be given copies of test questions from DPS, told to study them and get your CDL permit. Then you will be allowed to practice with a truck before scheduling your skills test at DPS. Sounds like a bargain and a fast track to starting your driving career but you should think twice. That is not training, and it could get you in trouble very quickly. You may find that inadequate training leads to ruining your driving record, wrecking your Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) score and preventing employment with good carriers that have strict standards.
Getting a CDL is just a start. Licensed CMV drivers have a huge responsibility. There’s much more to becoming a professional driver than just studying the test questions, meeting the basic requirements and squeaking through a driving test. You might think you could learn anything else you need through trial and error, but those errors could be deadly to your fellow drivers, even to you.
FMCSA may have withdrawn the ELT proposed rule at this time but don't let that stop you from making sure you have all the information to succeed. Have respect for yourself and your career. Make an investment in thorough training. You want to be doing this for a long time.