Training To Drive In The Eagle Ford - Part II

DMC Instructor & Student
DMC Instructor & Student

Truck drivers with commercial driver’s licenses are in high demand in the Eagle Ford Shale Play. However, getting that CDL license could get much more difficult in the near future. If you’re planning on getting, or offering, training, you need to keep an eye on the proposed regulations for entry level driver training. (ELDT).

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) regarding ELDT. If this becomes a final rule, all CDL training programs will have to meet those standards.

Last month we reviewed the long history of mandatory training standards proposals. What does the current NPRM mean for prospective drivers and for those in the training industry?

Must Complete Training

The proposed new rules will apply to

  • Any person applying to a State for an interstate CDL for the first time, upgrading to a Class A CDL from a Class B, or from an intrastate to an interstate CDL (including school bus drivers)
  • Any person not having completed the training who is reapplying for a CDL
  • After revocation for highway safety reasons or after a lapse in CDL status for 4 years.

Proposed Minimum Training Hours For Drivers

Note that the proposed rules require that a specific number of hours be spent in different aspects of training: in the classroom and behind the wheel.

BTW indicates time spent Behind the Wheel. The proposed hours do not include training for endorsements.

Training Programs Will Need Accreditation

[ic-r]The proposed regulations will require that training programs and institutions be accredited. The accrediting agency would have to be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education (ED) or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). This is of course of vital concern to anyone who is now conducting training which will have to be accredited under the proposed rule.

The American Truck Associations raised the following concerns about the accreditation part of the proposal:

  • There is a small (and shrinking) number of organizations that will actually accredit truck driving schools
  • Length of the accreditation process
  • After 3 year phase-in period, there is no ability to accredit a new school
  • Accrediting body standards will restrict schools’ ability to advertise and potentially jeopardize guaranteed employment upon graduation.
  • Would there be exemption for in-house training by motor carriers doing their own? (conflicting with a similar long-combination vehicle rule)

Mandatory accreditation would likely raise the cost of training.

Public Comment Period

The NPRM process includes an invitation to the public to file comments. In 2007 over 700 sets of comments were filed in response to the NPRM. Rich Clemente, Transportation Specialist for the FMCSA Driver/Carrier Operations notes that “most commenters do not oppose driver training but rather how the NPRM would be implemented is the contentious issue.”

Key concerns among the comments filed have been:

  • the cost of implementing the proposed Rule
  • the lack of quantitative safety benefit data from training
  • the matter of accreditation
  • a preference for a performance-based vs. minimum hours training approach
  • the length and details of the curriculum
  • a separate motor coach curriculum would be necessary
  • the availability of training in certain geographic areas
  • the effect on the supply of new drivers
  • an intrastate exclusion.

Click on the linkto view a video of the January 7, 2013 listening session that was held to hear comments.

What’s Next For Drivers?

FMCSA has to provide the court a new rule by September 2014 for evaluation. Should the regulation go into effect as proposed, the changes to driver training will be dramatic.