A coalition made up of trucking schools and motor carriers is asking for emergency action to get new truck drivers behind the wheel during the COVID-19 crisis.
The coalition is spearheaded by the Commercial Vehicle Training Association (CVTA) and includes members from trucking trade groups, trucking schools, and motor carriers.
The group argues that widespread state drivers licensing agency (SDLA) closures brought about by Coronavirus threatens the supply chain by preventing new truck drivers from earning a Commercial Drivers License (CDL).
According to CVTA, 27 states have shut down their SDLAs (or DMVs) completely, and 23 other states are offering SDLA services with limited hours or by appointment only.
The CVTA says that 25,000 — 40,000 CDLs are issued each month and that the pandemic has “abruptly halt[ed]” the process of getting new truck drivers behind the wheel.
In a letter to congressional leaders, the CVTA wrote, “Already, industries that rely on CDL drivers have begun to note the adverse impact on their ability to source new drivers while at the same time facing increased shipping volume demands. Moreover, given that the duration of the pandemic is unknown, it is all the more important that action be taken immediately to maintain the supply chain’s necessary resource: trained and licensed CDL drivers.”
The plan put forward by the CVTA would involve two measures.
The first would be granting the U.S. Secretary of Transportation temporary, concurrent authority to administer Commercial Learners Permit (CLP) or CDL testing and to issue CDLs, or to allow trucking schools administer CLP or CDL testing and to issue CDLs.
The second part of the CVTA plan would require state governors to enact executive orders declaring SDLAs and trucking schools to be “essential services” during the pandemic and require them to remain open.
“Commercial driver training schools are working together with participants across the supply chain to facilitate Americans’ access to needed goods and services, including food and critical supplies (like prescription medications) during this pandemic,” CVTA President Don Lefeve said. “To avoid truck driver shortages, which are critical to our nation’s response and recovery, it is imperative that state and federal governments work together so CDL schools and SDLAs can remain open to train, test and license new commercial drivers.”
The CVTA is the largest group representing commercial driver training programs in the U.S.