FMCSA will be screening motor carriers to determine their eligibility to participate in the Safe Driver Apprenticeship Pilot, which would allow trucks drivers between 18 and 21 years old to operate commercial motor vehicles in interstate commerce if they meet certain standards. - File Photo: A. Duie Pyle

FMCSA will be screening motor carriers to determine their eligibility to participate in the Safe Driver Apprenticeship Pilot, which would allow trucks drivers between 18 and 21 years old to operate commercial motor vehicles in interstate commerce if they meet certain standards.

File Photo: A. Duie Pyle

The U.S. Department of Transportation and the Department of Labor announced next steps on several new initiatives that will support drivers and improve driver retention while expanding access to driving jobs.

These initiatives, which uphold the 30-day commitments made in the Biden Administration's Trucking Action Plan, include: 

  • Expanding registered apprenticeship programs.
  • Launching the Safe Driver Apprenticeship Pilot for truck drivers under 21.
  • Over $32 million in funding to states to improve CDL licensing processes. 
  • Creating the Women of Trucking Advisory Board.
  • Creating a new task force to investigate predatory truck leasing arrangements.
  • Beginning two studies to explore the issues of truck driver pay and unpaid detention time.

Expansion of the Registered Apprenticeship Accelerator  

The DOT and DOL launched the 90 Day Trucking Apprenticeship Challenge to accelerate the expansion of Registered Apprenticeships to help employers and organized labor partners develop and retain a skilled workforce. Since the launch of the challenge 30 days ago, more than 100 employers and industry partners have stepped forward to expand Registered Apprenticeships.

More than 20 employers are close to launching new apprenticeships, which will put thousands of new drivers on the road in trucking jobs trained using the ‘earn while you learn’ Registered Apprenticeship model, U.S. DOT officials said in a press release.

Over the next 60 days the DOT, DOL, and industry partners will continue to host informational meetings and work with employers, industry groups and labor organizations to further support the development of these apprenticeships.

Safe Driver Apprenticeship Pilot  

FMCSA will be screening motor carriers to determine their eligibility to participate in the Safe Driver Apprenticeship Pilot, which would allow truck drivers between 18 and 21 years old to operate commercial motor vehicles in interstate commerce if they meet certain standards.

FMCSA published a Federal Register Notice that outlines the program safety requirements, including a requirement that participants meet the qualification standards of the Department of Labor’s Registered Apprenticeship program. 

The program limits participation to no more than 3,000 apprentices and about 1,000 participating motor carriers.

FMCSA will also conduct outreach to motor carriers with excellent safety records inviting their participation in the program.  

Funding to States for CDL Licensing 

The DOT and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration are supporting state departments of motor vehicles as they return to pre-pandemic commercial driver’s license issuance rates. As part of the Trucking Action Plan 30-day commitments, FMCSA announced more than $30 million in funding available to help states expedite CDLs. 

The FMCSA has also sent all 50 states a toolkit detailing specific actions they can take to expedite licensing and said it will work with states to address challenges they are facing.

Women of Trucking Advisory Board 

The Women of Trucking Advisory Board will help in federal and industry efforts to increase the number of women in trucking by reviewing and reporting on the current challenges facing woman drivers and those interested in joining the profession, such as barriers to entry, on-the-job safety risks, mentorship, quality training, and opportunities for advancement. 

The Federal Motor Safety Carrier Administration will begin soliciting nominations for the Advisory Board to ensure that the composition of the board represents a cross-section of women in the trucking industry. 

The White House is also convening a virtual roundtable to gather input on how to build a more inclusive and equitable workplace for women in the trucking industry.  

Truck Leasing Task Force 

Along with FMCSA, the DOL and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will form a Truck Leasing Task Force that will review leasing arrangements to identify actions that could make leases more equitable and transparent.  

The Task Force will be focused on reviewing and reporting on:

  • Common truck leasing arrangements, with a specific focus on inequitable terms and transparency. 
  • Truck leasing arrangements for ports that involve a requirement for trucks to convert to zero emissions.
  • Loans and other arrangements between incoming driver trainees and training schools and/or trucking companies to understand the extent to which these result in outsized and unanticipated debt for incoming drivers.
  • Looking into predatory truck leasing arrangements with DOL and in coordination with the CFPB. 

Detention Time Study 

FMCSA released a scope of work to begin a study on driver detention time and its impact on safety and compensation. 

Unlike past studies on the impact of driver detention time, this study will use a cross-section of electronic logging device data to provide a much more detailed understanding of wait times for drivers across jurisdictions and industry sectors. Data used will be aggregated and anonymized to ensure driver privacy. 

In addition to quantifying detention time, the study will also review how detention time influences the likelihood of a crash or an hours-of-service violation. 

Compensation Study 

FMCSA has begun partnering with the Transportation Research Board to conduct a study of the impacts of various methods of driver compensation on safety and driver retention.   

Specifically, the study will review the safety effect of payments made to truck drivers per load or per mile versus payments per hour. The study will also review the amount of time a truck driver spends away from home, driving and detained to determine true working hours, and then determine true hourly wages. 

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