The FMCSA is on a mission to change the face of the trucking industry. The CSA will place more responsibility on both motor carrier and the truck driver which they assume will lead to a safer operating industry. In the long run, I agree with the FMCSA that it will, but raising the safety factor for the trucking industry through the CSA will still prove to be limited.
The biggest problem within the industry lies with the current procedures in place for truck driving training. Motor carriers are so focused on hiring drivers that they fail to focus on the larger obstacle – retaining drivers. Along with this, providing a professional and well designed truck driver training program has proven to be disastrous for many CDL commercial truck driver students and graduates. Furthermore, no industry leader has the courage to step forward and address the CDL training problem. Blame continues to be passed around, back and forth, by both CDL schools and trucking companies, largely in part because both have their hands in each others wallets.
I recently received an email from one of the largest CDL training schools in the country, taking exception to one of my web pages offering advise for newcomers seeking the best possible CDL training. I simply point out that a school that is PTDI certified is just another “feather” in the cap, so to speak. I have also pointed out on many occasions that just because a CDL school is not PTDI certified, does not necessarily mean they are a bad school . . . only that it adds to their credibility. The ATA also recommends PTDI certified schools for training, when at all possible.
The message I received from this large CDL training school was alarming. In part it stated:
“I take exception to the comments in an article titled, Truck Driving Schools and Student Responsibility. We supply licensed but not polished drivers for the industry. All of the companies that we work with have trainer programs that put the finishing touches on these drivers. We are NOT a diploma mill, but simply prepare a student to be able to pass the CDL tests with the state examiner and become an entry-level driver.”
“In addition, we are not affiliated with PTDI and do not have 44 hours of driving time, because that amount of time is not necessary to train a student to get his/her license, become a safe driver and move on to the next phase of their training experience.”
Nowhere in my article do I mention names, but just providing a resource for new CDL students to further understand the best signs in choosing a good CDL school. The fact that he writes, “We are NOT a diploma mill” tells me that they probably are. Furthermore, these schools believe that 44 hours is not necessary to train someone in the operation of an 80,000 pound motor vehicle. That responsibility, to them, falls on the motor carrier. Yet, the motor carrier expects the new driver to be trained enough in skill, when they arrive for their new job with the company. The blame keeps going back and forth.
The FMCSA is working to raise the standards of safety and professionalism for the industry. The greatest area that they should be focusing on is this lack of responsibility for proper truck driving training by both CDL schools and the trucking companies. When a large CDL school confirms that their belief that 44 hours is simply not necessary for training, even when the ATA recommends it . . . that is reason for alarm.