Training to Drive Trucks in the Eagle Ford Shale

Tanker Truck on the Highway
Tanker Truck on the Highway

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.

Mandatory Standard Proposals Have a Long History

Mandatory standards for ELDT have been in several heated discussions for almost 38 years. Rich Clemente, Transportation Specialist for the FMCSA Driver/Carrier Operations summed up the highlights as follows::

1985 the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) issued the “Model Curriculum for Training Tractor-Trailer Drivers” for voluntary adoption. The Model Curriculum was very well written and has been referenced in all discussions. (Our book, BUMPER TO BUMPER®, The Complete Guide to Tractor-Trailer Operations, follows this model curriculum.)

1986 The Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1986 established the Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) program with tests for knowledge/skills, but required no specific training. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) further recommended, as part of new “national driver license program for commercial drivers” that “a requirement for formal training should be included in the prerequisites for obtaining a national license.”

1991 The Motor Carrier Act of 1991 – the Intermodal Surface Efficient Act (ISTEA) Section 4007(a) ruled that the DOT “shall commence a rulemaking proceeding on the need to require training of all entry level drivers of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs).

1993 Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) was published.

1996 A Federal Highway Safety 1995 report “Assessing the Adequacy of Commercial Motor Vehicle Driver Training” was transmitted to Congress. It drew two major conclusions:

  • Of the 3 private sectors (heavy trucks; motor coaches, and school buses), none is “effectively providing adequate training.”
  • No evidence was found of a relationship between adequacy of the training the driver reported receiving and his/her frequency of accidents.

2003/2004 Entry Level Driver Training (ELDT) NPRM (2003) & Final Rule (2004)

  • Writ of mandamus (2003) Public Citizen v. FMCSA for Agency to issue long overdue rulemakings – one was ELDT.
  • FMCSA published Final Rule (2004) intended to avoid duplication of topics in CDL testing; training provided through motor carrier. Topics covered included Driver Qualifications; Hours of Service; Driver Wellness; and Whistleblower Protection.

2005 Federal Court Decision: The U.S. Court of Appeals for D.C. Circuit remanded the existing training rule to FMCSA for further consideration (Decided 12/2/05). The Rule was not vacated. The FMCSA “inexplicably ignores the Adequacy Report and the regulatory prescriptions contained in that report… adequate must include ‘on street hours’ of training.” The Agency’s action was thus “arbitrary and capricious” under Administrative Procedure Act (APA).

2007 ELDT Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) was published  with these key provisions:

  • New interstate CDL holders;
  • Hours-based training approach;
  • Mandated curriculum;
  • Accredited schools; and
  • 3-year implementation from Final Rule publication.

What Does this Mean to Potential CDL Drivers?

What does this mean to you as a prospective licensed commercial truck driver, or as a professional involved in truck driver training? We’ll explore that next month in ELDT, Part Two.