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Upcoming CDL regulations cause concerns for smaller trucking operations

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Upcoming federal requirements for new driver training will go into effect early next year, raising concerns about the effects they may have on people trying to enter the industry. 

The upcoming Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations for entry level driver training (ELDT) were mandated under the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act back in 2016, and will go into effect on February 7th, 2022, reported American Traffic Safety Services Association.  

Under the new regulations, new truck drivers will be required to complete their training from a school listed on the Training Provider Registry, meaning some smaller, more affordable trucking companies and schools may no longer be a viable trucking school option. 

The new regulations were established to support “FMCSA’s goal of ensuring that only qualified drivers are behind the wheel of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs),” and do not apply to those who have already obtained their CDL. 

The FMCSA Training Provider Registry website will launch in February 2022, and will offer training providers a chance to sign up to be listed on the registry. The Registry will also keep a record of CDL applicants that have met the ELDT regulations for training and certification and will make this information accessible to states. 

Some smaller trucking companies that have previously provided training for their new drivers worry that these new regulations will prevent them from offering training and present yet another barrier for those looking to get into the trucking industry

“A lot of these folks still come from small communities, where they’ve been exposed to, maybe, driving on a farm or some kind of agriculture commodity, and those folks can no longer come into a smaller truck line, which is what we primarily have in the state of South Dakota, and just come to work for us,” said President of South Dakota’s K & J Trucking Inc., Shelley Koch to West Dakota Fox.

“We’re very much in favor of having schooling for drivers, we’re just not very much in favor of the additional restrictions,” Koch continued. “We’re all of a sudden now taking people out of the industry that can help move products and goods.”

“This is just one more hurdle for them to get a CDL,” South Dakota Trucking Association Executive Director Christine Erickson said. 

“You already have to take the class, you already have to take the test, you have to pass that, you have to get the training… In order to entice folks, I could see a lot of businesses saying we’ll cost-share, but that’s another cost to the business as well, and it’s just a trickle-down,” Erickson said.

“Now is not that time to put a bunch of onerous regulation on the industry, when we’re trying to get product from place to place, we’re seeing a bottleneck in the shipping industry and can’t get things out of ports.”

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