The Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI) has revised its standards for entry-level drivers and driver training courses. Revisions include ease of use, updated terminology, more flexible standards, and inclusion of advancements in technology.

The changes were the result of a four-year effort by a task force of high-level industry professionals representing labor, insurance, motor carriers, and driver training schools.

More than 25 years ago, industry stakeholders began meeting to develop the initial standards for entry-level drivers that they deemed necessary to produce a safe, skilled, well-educated driver. As a result, PTDI created skill, curriculum, and certification standards and, since 1989, has been certifying truck driver training courses across the United States and Canada. PTDI is the only certifying body for commercial motor vehicle (CMV) operator education and training in the trucking industry.

"Our goal was to make PTDI course certification a smoother process for the schools that wanted to be certified and also look into what was on the horizon so we could address issues such as distance learning, computer-based training, and other current technology," said Mark Johnson, chairman of the PTDI Standards Review Task Force formed in 2007.

Another goal, according to Johnson, was to make the certification process clearer. "We wanted to come up with standards that were generic enough to meet everybody's needs, yet specific enough to meet the industry's needs," said Johnson, who is the director of the Teamsters National Training.

Robert McClanahan, director, Central Tech Transportation & Safety Education, a publicly-funded driver-training school, said the standards are now more user-friendly. "If people understand what they're reading, they're more willing to look into it. I think these changes will expand the number of PTDI course certifications."

McClanahan, who served on the task force for the entire four years, explained that "we worked hard not to change the meaning of the standards but simply make them more understandable. We received input from all aspects of the industry and we made sure we were all in agreement. That made the process more challenging, but, for the most part, it was very good because we could see each other's point of view and come to an agreement on what the standards should say."

As the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's Minimum Training Requirements for Entry-Level Commercial Motor Vehicle Operators initiative draws closer to becoming effective, most likely in November 2011, some on the task force hope the government will go to PTDI as the model.

McClanahan noted that the proposed federal regulations reference PTDI standards and certification, and the PTDI standards revision process "fits in with the timing of the proposed federal rulemaking."

The revised standards are available online at