National Connections, Local Ownership
National Connections, Local Ownership

Addressing the Driver Shortage and Driver Safety Simultaneously

The FMCSA proposes two new rules that prove you don’t have to trade off safety in order to help mitigate the driver shortage.

I don’t remember how many blogs I’ve written about the truck driver and technician shortage, but it’s been a lot. When it comes to the drivers, we know that the workforce is aging out and not being replaced at a quick enough pace. Fleets, large and small, are concerned with the loss of business due to a lack of drivers.

But the trucking industry is also very concerned about safety when it comes to their drivers. The problem isn’t just about finding younger men and women who want to make this a career…it’s about finding qualified men and women who want to do so.

That’s why these two new rules, proposed in the last few weeks by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, are so important. Both address the driver shortage and the necessity that finding those additional drivers will not lead to less safe roads.

The first rule is the Military Licensing and State CDL Reciprocity. This rule would allow driver licensing agencies in the states to waive the CDL knowledge test for qualified veterans and active-duty military personnel.  A waiver for the CDL skills test requirement for this group has existed since 2012. The men and women who have served and continue to serve this country are among the most tested, many of them in some of the roughest terrain and conditions. Not only do they deserve our respect and thanks; they deserve the right to take that experience and turn it into a rewarding civilian career. Since the CDL skills waiver was put into effect, more than 18,000 military personnel have transitioned into commercial driver positions.

The second rule is the Commercial Learner’s Permit Validity. This is an extension of the learner’s permit expiration period from the current six months to up to one full year. This acknowledges that in some cases, especially to guarantee the best, most qualified drivers, it may take a longer time period to guarantee that qualification. In the past, individuals who needed a 180-day renewal would incur considerable expense and costly paperwork requirements imposed by the states. It would also reduce the need to retest since the individual could wait until he or she felt ready.

The public will be able to post comments for both proposals for 60 days following formal publication in the Federal Register. I’m heartened by this win-win-win situation. Fleets will win because more new drivers will now be available to hire; job-seekers will win since a new promising career will now be more accessible to them; and the public will win because these new drivers will be safer, better trained drivers.

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