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Raising the Standards of the Trucking Industry

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Overhauling the CDL Training Standards

CDL Road Test

Rental truck for a CDL road test

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.

Motor Carriers

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.

U.S. Government

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.

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By: Allen Smith

Allen Smith is a 37 year veteran who started at an early age in a household goods family moving business. He began driving straight trucks in 1977 and moved to the big rigs in 1982. His experience within the industry includes; owner operator, company driver, operations manager, and owner of a long distance HHG moving business, taking many of the long haul moves himself when needed. Allen Smith, a truck driver advocate who is driven by the desire to help others succeed within an industry where injustice, unrewarded sacrifice, and lack of respect and recognition exists. Allen and his wife Donna are hosts of Truth About Trucking ”Live” on Blog Talk Radio. Other websites include AskTheTrucker, TruckingSocialMedia, NorthAmericanTruckingALerts, TruthAboutTrucking, and many Social Media websites. In 2011 Allen and Donna hosted the first Truck Driver Social Media Convention, designed to create unity and solutions for the trucking industry. This is now being extended through the North American Trucking Alerts network as those within the industry join forces for the betterment of the industry. Allen strongly supports other industry advocates who are also stepping up to the plate to help those who share honesty, guidance and direction. He believes that all those involved in trucking need to be accountable for their part within the industry, including drivers, carriers, brokers, shippers, receivers, etc… The list of supporters and likeminded people grow daily, networking together and sharing thoughts and ideas for the betterment of trucking. He has coined the popular phrase "Raising the standards of the trucking industry"

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4 Responses to Overhauling the CDL Training Standards. - Post a Comment

  1. john grubbs

    do you anything about c, r england trucking comp,,,,, thanks

  2. Charley

    I am half way through my first year of trucking. I want to point out there are alternatives to getting you CDL. I obtained mine through an 8 week course at a local community college. It took longer than a CDL mill, but it cost about half the going rate for a 3 or 4 week ” school”. I had six job offers after graduation, and would have had more if I had keep filling out applications. Because my community college was a Professional Truck Drivers Certifation program I was able to land a good job, with no experience.

    • Allen Smith

      Community Colleges are an excellent choice as I’ve been a a supporter of them for many years on my other website
      Truth About Trucking

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