Training Groups Attack CDL Mills
February 22, 1999
Four North American truck driver training groups are calling for standards that would discourage “CDL mills,” which turn out licensed truck drivers in two or three days.
Members of the Commercial Vehicle Training Assn., the Assn. of Publicly Funded Truck Driver Schools, the Truck Training Schools Assn. of Ontario and the Professional truck Driver Institute plan to meet this weekend to develop a strategy against the schools.
The move against CDL mills was sparked by recent TV news reports in Canada that a reporter obtained a commercial license in 10 hours after passing the test while driving a pickup truck pulling a horse trailer. After receiving his license, the reporter confronted the Ontario Minister of Transport on camera, and told him that he was now legally able to drive gasoline tankers in Canada and the United States.
One option the four groups are thinking about pursuing is getting the Federal Highway Administration to finish its fact-finding study, mandated by Congress by ISTEA in 1991, to study whether mandatory training standards are necessary. There are no U.S. standards for truck driver licensing.
“We don’t take a position on whether there should or should not be mandatory regulations,” said Michael O’Connell, executive director of CVTA, in an interview with RoadStar Radio News. “But we think that the response to that rulemaking is far overdue, and we’d like to see it released so we can at least begin to focus on what the public dialogue should be on how we regulate training in general and how we regulate the CDL mills.”
Driver training schools don’t agree on whether standards should be federally mandated, left up to the states, or handled by the private sector. The Professional Truck Driver Institute offers a voluntary, private-sector certification program. Lana Batts, executive director of PTDI, notes that the CDL mills “are out there offering substandard training could not be certified by PTDI.”
The groups also want to see the industry recognize drivers who complete quality training. “Motor carriers must make it clear that they need drivers to be well trained,” said Don Hess, president of APFTDS, “and recognizing those that obtain quality training through increased compensation is the best way to do that.”