Some Interesting Driver Initiatives

We’re all well aware of the driver shortage and how important it is to make certain that any new drivers we sign-up are able to safely operate their trucks.

Last month, the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued two notices of proposed rule making that I think are steps in the right direction to help the trucking industry deal with what has become one of our biggest concerns.

The first notice calls for making permanent the extension of the time veterans have to apply for a skills test waiver. In July of 2014, FMCSA temporarily extended the time period for the waiver from 90 days to one year following a veteran’s separation from the military. Just one catch: while in the military, the vet must have held a position that required him or her to operate a motor vehicle.

I’m guessing that a lot of folks aren’t certain what they want to do when they first exit military service.  Extending the waiver period not only gives them more time to decide on a career, but gives trucking company recruiters more time to reach out to this road-ready driver population.

The other proposal focuses on establishing a core curriculum for new truck drivers. It would include both a theoretical section and a driving requirement component.

The theory portion would cover things like basic operation of a truck, the proper way to conduct an inspection, procedures to follow in the event of a crash, trip planning, and much more.

The driving portion would require the CDL seeker to spend 30 hours behind the wheel of a truck with 10 of those hours on a driving range, and 10 hours on public road (or 10 trips of at least 50 minutes each on public roads).

By having a set curriculum which includes lots of time behind the wheel before a CDL is issued, new drivers will become more confident in their skills and give fleets a good starting point for any additional training.

I’m all for programs that make it easier to get more qualified drivers into our industry. Or for programs that ensure the new drivers we do attract are prepared and confident when they get behind the wheel.

Glad to see that the FMCSA is taking a leadership role on this. Now the rest of us need to continue coming up with more innovative ways to ease the driver shortage, help our veterans find good jobs, and help new drivers operate trucks as safely as possible.

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