As the FMCSA begins to take a look at the CDL training standards for entry-level truck drivers, the problems are too many to list in one post. Problems with proper truck driver training have been going on for years and is one issue that is in need of a serious overhaul.
On January 7th 2013, the FMCSA held a public listening session regarding Entry Level CDL Training. The broadcast was live and many comments were heard. Also heard were comments sent via email which were read live at the listening session. A full replay can be watched HERE
In order to correct the lack of adequate training for commercial motor vehicle operators, one only has to look at the three major players within the equation: the CDL training schools, the motor carriers and the U.S. Government.
CDL Training Schools
A large majority of the cdl truck driver training schools across the country operate in such a non-professional manner that many students are only a money-maker for the school and many students end up with the prized CDL license, but no job. At the top of the problem list for cdl schools is the act of false advertisement. As the training facilities are allowed to continue displaying enticing remarks such as “guaranteed job placement assistance” and “earn up to $50,000 your first year”, entry-level cdl training will always be problematic.
The newcomer to truck driving does not see “guaranteed job placement assistance” but rather, “guaranteed job placement” and many of these schools will not take the time to explain. Furthermore, job placement assistance can mean that the school will contact a few carriers who refuse to hire and the school will say that they have met their promise. Also, too many schools are allowed to accept any student within their program, even those with poor MVR or background histories who they know will stand no chance of hire after training completion.
These schools continue to neglect telling the student the facts about long-haul trucking income which averages at best, $34,000 per year for their first year and even this is misleading in many instances. Veteran drivers are currently reporting annual incomes of less than $27,000 but many schools continue to draw students in with the promise of big money and an exciting career.
For the entry-level truck driver, those motor carriers who accept recent CDL school graduates for hire are what I call, “Starter Companies.” A large percentage of these starter companies are the major reason for the driver turn-over issue and why nearly 70% of new drivers will quit the industry within the first six months. I will not reiterate the problems of cutting miles, starving out drivers, blackballing drivers through the DAC report and those other issues that I have discussed before many times over; yet, as long as these carriers are allowed to operate by using drivers as a patsy for everything that the carrier itself does wrong, the standards for CDL training will not change.
The FMCSA must make it clear to carriers that their drivers have the right to operate the CMV according to the rules and regulations established under federal law, without the fear of retaliation from the carrier.
New drivers expect a high-paying job and rewarding career in truck driving because this is what the CDL schools and motor carriers are advertising and promising. In reality, they receive low pay, long hours, lack of compensation for extra work and in many cases, termination in order to move them out and bring in a fresh batch of new hires; and it is this moving out process that leads us to the final player in the CDL training standards difficulties.
When the U.S. Government decided to enact government subsidies and grants for CDL training in order to combat the industry-induced driver shortage problem, the idea was a noble one in the beginning. What the government failed to realize is that these schools and starter companies and motor carriers with their own training facilities quickly realized that there was more money to be made off the backs of the unsuspecting student. Motor carriers and CDL schools “teamed up” under the disguise of working together: the motor carrier would hire students from a particular school and “share” in the free government money. In order to keep the “free” money coming in, the industry developed the “turning-over” of drivers, keeping an influx of trainees as an on-going process and a continual money-maker business relationship between these truck driver training schools and the motor carrier.
As mentioned in the beginning, there are many more issues concerning the problem with CDL training standards. One further example would be such businesses as CDL truck rental in order to pass the required road test examination. The problem here can be seen in the photo above. Before the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1986, the majority of these problems were nonexistent. As these so-called training standards were implemented, many businesses grew out of the Act.
Unfortunately, too many of these businesses were formed as a way to defraud not only the government, but the misinformed consumer as well.