New requirements for entry-level truck drivers take effect next year, stakeholders say could worsen trucker shortage

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The American Trucking Association estimates that the industry is short of at least 80,000 truck drivers.
Starting early next year, truck drivers will have to meet new requirements in order to get a license.

But industry people say the timing is off because of the current driver shortage.

The federal Entry Level Driver Training, the first of its kind, aims for uniform truck driver training and improve highway safety

This is the second attempt to implement the regulation that was passed in 2016.

The pandemic is one of the reasons authorities held it back. Starting Feb. 7, 2022, the new rules will come into effect.

“The federal motor carrier safety administration regulations will require anyone who’s never held a CDL to undergo entry-level driver training before they can move from a commercial driver permit to a full CDL,” Director of Drivers License Brad Schaffer said.

Kelly Krapu is the Compliance and Safety Services manager at True North Compliance Services. She has been a proponent of delaying the rules because of the driver shortage.

“At its core, it’s a very good rule and 100% stand behind it. However, in the time that we’re already short of so many truck drivers and our supply chain is in such a critical crisis right now it’s just poor timing,” Krapu said.

Another major concern, she says, waiting for the registry of certified trainers.

“The theory-based course, there wasn’t a requirement, you just had to be knowledgable in certain areas, that was four areas and now theory-based is 31 courses. Then when you complete that you have to go do the behind-the-wheel. The problem with this is, these courses need to be taught by a certified trainer who’s on the training registry of the FMCSA. So we have no idea who is on that registry or how many trainers we will have in the state of North Dakota,” Krapu said.

Meanwhile, Schaffer says they are working to make the registry public. He also explained anyone who has had a CDL for two years can register to be a trainer. That he believes will mitigate a shortage of trainers.

“In a trucking company, obviously are going to have CDL drivers that probably have lots of experience. One of those people is probably going to be the trainer in some way or another all they have to do is to register at the FMCSA website. Right now you can register to be a trainer but it is not open as far as to see who the trainers are,” said Schaffer.

The new rules do not affect anyone who gets a license before Feb. 7.

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