Could Deregulation by Trump End Speed Limiter Rules

For all the truck drivers out there worried about having semi speeds put on lockdown, here’s some hope. This is the one truck driving regulation that Trump has made some noise about. As it is still up for approval, the speed limiter rule is heading for the dumps rather than the Federal Register, which is a happy day for many in the trucking industry. But will it see daylight before the end of the Trump administration?

Understanding the Speed Limiter Mandate

If the speed limiter mandate were to be written
in the rule books, it would require all commercial carriers with over the road trucking jobs to limit their drivers’ speed. Regulating devices would be affixed to all rigs in order to govern truck drivers’ driving speeds or lack thereof. The speed limiter devices would have limited all OTR truckers even those for companies like Comtrak, Davis Transfer, and Kenan Advantage Group. The speed limit was not set in stone, but some safety advocates including the American Trucking Associations wanted it set at 65 mph. Some wanted it even lower at 60 mph.

The problem with this mandate, well, there are many. For starters, it puts truckers’ safety at risk when they aren’t able to speed up in areas of congestion. When you have all of these passenger car drivers going 80 mph, which is the speed limit in some states, and there are semis moving like turtles at 60 mph, it also leads to road rage against big rig drivers. After all, no one likes to be blocked by a convoy of truckers moving excessively slower than the rest of the road’s drivers.

It also puts those public drivers at risk for being involved in rear end collisions as they aren’t able to slow down to the slowest speeds of truckers. Like it or not the general public simply doesn’t understand the rules and speed requirements of truckers, which only creates more stress for both parties on public highways.

There is also the issue of truckers trying to get back up to speed when going up hilly highways. The slower they are when starting, the slower they are going up, and it all adds up to slow, slow, slow. This is also a safety risk when truckers are getting ran around by other speedier drivers who aren’t taking the speed limiter rule into account.

The speed limiter mandate would also require all drivers and trucking company owners to purchase speed limiter equipment for trucks. These can cost anywhere from $125 to $300 plus regular updates. However, the real cost comes from the increased amount of time it takes for truck drivers to get goods delivered. This is an economic disaster, especially in a time when freight demand is at a 10 year high.

Trump Dumps the Speed Limiter Regulation

So it goes that Trump is set to block this regulation from happening. Already Trump has sent out a memo, on January 20, that delayed the rule of the speed limiters from moving forward. Along with this freeze on approving new regulations, Trump is promising to get rid of two old regulations for every new regulation being approved. In other words, even if the speed limiter mandate is set for approval there is going to be an even longer process than usual for getting it into the regulation books.

A lawsuit was just filed on February 8 against the Trump administration and Transportation Secretary Chao that states reducing regulations is not constitutional. By promising to repeal two regulations for each regulation passed, the administration is pushing legislative limits. As this lawsuit develops it may turn out that Trump’s move to deregulate, deregulate, deregulate might not be so effective after all.

Will this change the way the rules work for the speed limit mandate or is it still on its way? Who knows for sure, given the recent developments. However, there is the promising theory that this mandated regulation will at least take longer than usual to pass. This follows suit with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s delay of the national new truck driver training standard that was meant to go into effect, but has now been delayed as well.

How Trucking Companies are Affected by Trump’s Deregulation

J&R Schugel Truck Driving Down The RoadFederal regulations come in all shapes and sizes. In speaking of regulations as a whole they are printed on 80,000 pages of paper in the Federal Register. Tens of thousands of regulations are included across all industries from the EPA to the FMCSA. So when Trump decries regulation and promises to bring down 80 percent of them, it begs to wonder. Which ones? Will the deregulation go for the big guys or extend to small businesses? More importantly, how will this deregulation affect trucking companies like J & R Schugel, CCC Transportation, and D & T Trucking?

Small Businesses Revel in Deregulation

In the trucking world 90 percent of businesses are small business trucking companies that have 10 or fewer trucks, according to OOIDA. So when you see small business owners surrounding Trump while he pens the executive order to deregulate, deregulate, deregulate, it looks promising for the trucking industry. Why? Regulations are the biggest federal constraint of small businesses. According to the US Chamber of Commerce president Thomas Donohue, the regulatory system “is limiting economic growth, choking small business, and putting people out of work.”

Regulations Cost Small Businesses

When you have excessive regulation it is extremely costly for businesses of all sizes. However, for small businesses the cost is tenfold. When a small business takes a ding for a regulation mishap it isn’t easily absorbed. When a small business has to make changes to accommodate regulations it’s a costly and time consuming venture.

Example of E-Log Expenses

For example, when a small trucking carrier has to purchase 10 new electronic logging devices at $500 each, and then sign up for wireless plans at $50 a month for each driver, that’s $5,000 just for the devices, plus an additional $6,000 that first year for the wi-fi service plan. A small business shelling out $11,000 just for a regulatory requirement? That’s ludicrous and it’s also excessively expensive.

Top Regulations to Drop in Trucking Industry

If you ask most small business owners, as well as OTR truck drivers what they would drop in regulations in their industry, here are some top contenders:

  • Electronic logging device mandate
  • Emissions controls and retrofitting device requirements
  • Potential requirement for ongoing truck driver training to maintain a CDL
  • Medical prescription requirements for high blood pressure medications, depression medications, etc.
  • Hours of service rules need to be cut way back in regulations to be easier to understand; many drivers would vote to cut HOS out altogether
  • Road taxes and fees that are growing every year, while the infrastructure of America’s highways isn’t getting better

Deregulations for truck drivers would put them back to their pre-1980s existence when they had the freedom to work their own hours and make far better salaries than they do today. All of this safety regulation that has been pushed on trucking companies and truck drivers over the past few decades has done more damage than good. To get back to the way things were, that would be the way to go. Will this ever happen, even in the radical reform of regulations under the Trump administration? At the rate Trump is transforming things up top there’s a good chance we’ll know one way or the other very soon.

We want to know, whether you are a truck driver or a trucking company owner, what are the trucking regulations that you would want dropped from the books? Do you think it’s a possibility that some of the biggest trucking regulations will be kicked to the curb?

Trade Deals and the Trucking Industry: What Truckers Need to Know

American flag waving in the windLet’s talk trade. After all, the trucking industry was built on the demand for driving trade, literally. As the new President puts his Executive pen to paper we are seeing trade agreements including the TPP and potentially NAFTA come to an end. So what about the trucking industry? How will the new system of free trade affect trucking companies and truck drivers?

Understanding the Trans-Pacific Partnership

The TPP is the biggest regional trade partnership in American history. If left alone it would have established trade terms for business investors within 11 Pacific Rim nations including Mexico, Canada, Japan, Australia, Singapore, Peru, Vietnam, Chile, Malaysia, Brunei Darussalem, and New Zealand. In total the annual GDP (gross domestic product) of these countries and the US is worth $28 trillion. It accounts for about 40 percent of the world’s GDP.

Issues with the TPP started when Obama negotiated it in secret in 2014 and 2015. In both political parties there was opposition to the trade pact. Reasons include a loss of jobs overseas and a poor position for globalism. The Trans-Pacific Partnership is modeled after another undesirable trade pact, the North American Free Trade Agreement better known as NAFTA. This is an agreement that increases profits for globalized corporations, while overlooking the workers who provide the manpower for those profits.

Of course this wasn’t the original intention of either of these trade pacts. However, by putting in all of this federal level control, it only creates a greater distance between the big wigs and the little guys. An organization of this magnitude is fraught with regulations and paperwork that all but ignore the human interests of workers. Promises for fair wages and safe working conditions are lost in the mess of it all. Many would agree that the end of both the TPP and NAFTA would be the best idea.

Trucking and the TPP

Now that the TPP is set to be abolished with the pen of Trump those involved in the trade with these countries can sigh with relief. Instead of dealing with trade conglomerates, businesses can deal with one another. Free trade offers greater benefits for those who are trying to earn a dollar. There will always be some degree of unrest in industries, such as the trucking industry, that are related to trade. However, now we don’t have to agree with all of the other national interests in order to achieve trade deals. Globalizing trade may work in some form, but it’s never going to work with the NAFTA or TPP style deals going on.

Eventually for the trucking industry, small fleets and national trucking companies like C&K Trucking, Dancor Transit and Lone Star Transportation will be free of the restrictions carried forth by the TPP and NAFTA. This allows for an open market, which idealistically will increase the amount of trade, and money, that can roll from country to country. Instead of making rules that restrict trade, this free method will open up the bank rolls. Manufacturers and businesses will be able to trade more efficiently. Truck driving companies will have more than enough to handle in terms of trucking loads. From exports and imports, to domestic trade throughout North America, more goods will be in transit. And for the trucking industry that is all well and good.

Concerns with No More TPP…or NAFTA

The only downside to not having NAFTA or TPP will be that there will be an increase in trade. How is this a negative? Well, let’s take a look at the trucking industry in real-time. It is already an industry under strain. We are looking at 890,000 truck driver positions to be open through 2025. Couple this with the 48,000 empty trucking seats already available in 2017. This is the result of a massive exodus of truck drivers who are in the baby boomer era and hitting their retirement stride.

The more truckers we lose, the fewer truckers who want to pick up the rig keys. That’s because the up and coming generation of OTR truck drivers, those millennials, aren’t interested in becoming truckers. If we experience a surge in trade this could be crippling to the trucking industry at this moment. After all, if there aren’t enough commercial truckers in Class 8 semis able to haul the increased shipments of goods it will cause a major pileup at ports of entry around the world. While this is speculation it is also warranted speculation. We’ve seen this happen just a year ago at the California ports when the drivers there went on strike.

The Reality for the Trucking Industry with International Trade

What we do know for sure is that the goal of the Trump administration is free trade. And we also know the trucking industry is running at max capacity when comparing the ratio of drivers to full trailers to haul. Any more pressure to get more goods in transit could lead to several situations. Truckers forced to work harder could push back and require better working conditions and better pay. We’ve already seen the truck driving occupation rise up and become the fastest growing blue collar job title in 2016. This added work load could only increase truck driving salaries nationwide. Thank the market definition of supply and demand for that one.

Another circumstance could be that businesses falter due to a lack transportation for their goods. They could opt to create their own private fleets similar to Walmart and Amazon. Of course this will also require more truckers to fill the seats, and both of these companies have proven this to be possible. The reality is that everything is happening at cutthroat speed with this new US administration. Therefore we can’t be for certain what will happen with the denouncement of the TPP. We can’t even be sure about what the new President will do or say tomorrow.

Are Independent Contractors the Same as Company Drivers?

Truck Driver Driving into a StormHere’s the scenario. You are a driver for a trucking company, and you are leasing your rig through your employer. You are classified as an independent contractor, but is that correct? After all, all of your loads and trucking jobs are doled to you by your employer. You aren’t allowed to accept side jobs in your leased rig because it’s company affiliated. This is the question that federal courts in Arizona and California want answered. Let’s take a look at why this matters for truck drivers.

Independent Drivers Contracted to Companies

What is happening, and has been happening for years, is that trucking companies are hiring drivers as employees. Then they give them the option of leasing the company’s equipment in a lease-to-own situation. After the lease is paid off the driver owns the equipment free and clear, sort of.

These truckers would have to sign a contract with their employer that stipulates when and where they drive their rig. So even though the driver is leasing to own their equipment they do not outright have the freedom to use their truck as they want to. Due to the contract they’ve signed with their employer they can’t take weekend loads. They can’t pick up extra work when they are home for a week or two from their company driver jobs.

The company owns and controls every aspect of the trucks including maintenance, as well as the condition of the truck. So if the driver wants to upgrade their own trucking seat, sleeper, or engine, they have to get permission. If a driver is having problems with their truck they are going to have to go through their employer to get them fixed. They can’t simply go to their own truck repair shop or diesel mechanic. Most of the time these drivers aren’t even allowed to work on their equipment at all.

Also by the time you pay off a lease on one of these company rigs, which takes about 5 to 7 years, that truck is going to be both out of date and worn out in mileage. You are stuck with the company truck that you may not even be able to sell legally. This doesn’t sound like an independent contractor situation or a wise business move for the driver.

Tax Time Classification

Now let’s look at the financial problem with this setup. When you get ready to file your taxes as a trucker you have a few options. If you are filing taxes as an independent contractor, you are considered self-employed. Therefore you are responsible for filing as such and for paying your own Social Security and Medicare, which is called the FICA tax. You also have to pay self-employment tax on top of your regular income tax.

However, if you are driving for a particular carrier and leasing your tractor-trailer through them, you are considered a self-employed truck driver when it comes tax time. You will receive a 1099 and have to fork out a pretty penny to cover your income tax bill. Yet you do not have the rights of an independent contractor. You don’t have the ability to take on additional work using your rig, because it is leased to a particular company. The concern is that the trucking carrier may be avoiding paying income tax on you as an employee, even though by and in large you are their employee.

Lawsuits and Legal Matters

Trucking carriers that are incorrectly classifying truck drivers as independent contractors, when in fact they are employees, may not be aware of the issue. However, legal cases brought up in California and Arizona are setting a precedent to make this issue known. The goal is to prevent carriers from being able to wrongly classify company drivers in order to avoid paying all wages.

More specifically legal teams declare that these companies aren’t paying all of the state and federal wages for these drivers. For truckers who are working overtime they aren’t getting overtime pay because they are considered independent contractors. All of this is required according to the Fair Labor Standards Act, and this is the claim the plaintiffs against these carriers are making. One of the latest cases ruled in favor of the drivers stating that the company was wrongly classifying drivers as independent contractors.

What You Need to Know

If you are leasing a truck through your employer, but they are considering you an independent contractor, you could be losing money. More importantly, these latest legal developments indicate that you may be able to take a stand against misclassification and win. If you are considered an independent contractor and have purchased your own equipment, then you deserve the rights and freedoms that come with this classification.

We want to hear from truckers to whom this applies. How do you feel about this misclassification situation?

Could the Trump Administration Scrap the ELD Mandate?

Donald Trump Smirking as President of The United StatesCan Trump Cut Out the E-Log Requirement for Truckers?

The election is a memory, the new President is in power, and now we want to see some action. A general feeling among truck drivers is that the ELD mandate needs to go. We have until December 2017 before all truckers must use this new all-electronic logging system. That gives President Trump 11 months to break it off with e-logs, revamp the requirement, or leave it as it stands. So what is it going to be? That’s the question we all want answered. Let’s evaluate the facts to see if there’s a chance e-log regulation will be bypassed or put on hold indefinitely.

The Unified Registration System

For starters we have the Unified Registration System created by the FMCSA. This new system is going to replace all applications and paperwork for truck drivers and trucking companies including GSTC, CTL and FFE Transportation. Called the Unified Registration System, the URS will also replace all trucking numbers including USDOT and MC numbers. The overall goal is to make everything electronic for truckers and carriers via the FMCSA and DOT. Keep in mind this is exactly what the electronic logging devices are going to be doing, too.

So what does this tell us about the future of e-logs? First of all the DOT and FCMSA are clearly ready to go all electronic, sending any paperwork to the curb. This URS has been around for a couple of years now, but it’s getting ready to go full steam for everyone involved with the trucking industry. Secondly, and more notably, the FCMSA has recently suspended full enforcement of the URS. This is paramount for the e-log conversation.

Is the FCSMA putting the URS switchover on hold because the electronic logging device mandate is thought to be tossed aside? If we saw the URS requirement enforced, this would give us pause to think that the e-log mandate would be enforced as well. In other words, putting the URS enforcement on hold gives us hope that e-logs will be put on hold as well.

Rogue with Regulations

Trump has denounced regulation and government interference throughout his campaign. He would like the least amount of regulatory control by government agencies, which would include the FMCSA and DOT. So if we listened just to what Trump has to say it would appear that trucking regulations will become lax and near to nonexistent.

But we can’t just listen to Trump. We have to consider the powers that are within his administrative cabinet. All throughout the confirmation hearings we’ve heard cabinet appointee after appointee declare differences with their boss. While Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao did not make such declarations known, this is likely due to her easy confirmation. Yet some of those who are having a more difficult time with getting confirmed are steering away from the Trump plan.

Could this be a sign of what is to come? Will the Trump administration work in their own accord and with less oversight from their employer? If so then there is a likelihood that the e-log mandate will be pushed through and enforced in full. After all, if Trump isn’t pressing hard against the e-log requirement specifically, then there is the chance he doesn’t even know about it.

We have yet to hear specifically how Trump feels about trucking regulations in general, and the e-log mandate in focus. What this means is it’s not a top priority for the new President. As a result there seems to be the consensus that unless Chao steps up to the plate and blocks enforcement that e-logs will be a requirement come December.

E-Log Lobbyists

The other side of the agenda are the e-log lobbyists which includes e-log manufacturers. These figures have a very real stake in the passing and enforcement of the e-log mandate. They have spent years and millions working to make e-logging devices a requirement. We cannot simply expect these lobbyists to step aside and change their direction now that Trump is President. In fact we can expect that they will continue to push for e-log enforcement.

Furthermore considering that they have a financial interest in e-logging devices, we have to wonder how this relates to the new administration. Trump wants to treat the nation as a business. Lobbyists for e-logs want to make money off of truckers and carriers by requiring that e-logging devices be put into every big rig around the nation. Both Trump and the lobbyists are on the same page here. If these entities can show Trump the financial gain from having these devices, along with slight safety evidence, there is a very real chance that Trump will go with the mandate. After all, it’s a business venture.

The Bottom Line

In reality the new President has so much to tackle that reneging on the e-log mandate is at the bottom of his bucket. He will be dealing with much bigger issues in his first year of the presidency. And who knows what pertinent issues will pop up during the next 11 months? We can imagine that these national concerns will be more pressing than the e-log enforcement. Therefore we have to keep a close eye at Transportation Secretary Chao to see what moves she makes in the transportation industry. This is our best bet at predicting whether the e-log mandate will be shut down or reversed.

The bottom line is that the mandate for electronic logging devices has been passed and is heading for full enforcement. This is where it stands unless drastic measures are taken at the top. So you’d better start shopping for your e-log device today so you aren’t stuck paying high prices due to supply and demand come December.

6,600 Truckers in Atlanta Area Need New DOT Physicals ASAP: What to Do If This Is You

Truckers Parked on Parking DeckWell, well, well, it turns out that one of the doctors in Atlanta providing DOT physicals for truckers was up to no good. About 6,600 commercial truck drivers in GA, as well as 48 other states, are victims of this scam. The offending certified medical examiner has been charged and removed from service. However, those drivers with DOT physicals performed by the doctor have their own problems now. Learn how this happened and what you should do if you think your CME is not giving you a trustworthy bill of health.

Doctor Arrested for Falsifying DOT Physical Records

Dr. Anthony Lefteris was providing truck drivers with DOT physical exams within a Petro truck stop in Atlanta. He was caught certifying drivers who have medical conditions that otherwise would prevent them from being A-ok’ed for their CDL renewal. For example, if you know that you have high blood pressure and take medication, you would have likely been approved for service by Dr. Lefteris without question. Other health conditions he was likely overlooking include an oversized neck circumference, which is an indicator of sleep apnea, as well as medication-controlled diabetes.

When certified medical examiners lie and cheat the system it jeopardizes several entities. In addition to making blatant lies about drivers, Dr. Lefteris was undermine the health and safety of truck drivers. Some drivers even reported telling this doctor that they had certain health concerns, which he subsequently ignored. All Dr. Lefteris wanted was to get as many DOT physical exams completed so he could make more money, even at risk of the general public.

The investigation began in September 2016 with the work of undercover DOT agents. By December 1 the certified medical examiner was arrested. His charges include not carrying out legitimate physical exams, and with uploading false data within the DOT clearinghouse for commercial driver license renewals.

What Affected Truck Drivers Need to Do

The DOT wants all truck drivers who received their annual DOT physical through Dr. Lefteris to get a new physical. In fact, these drivers only have 30 days after they receive a letter of notification from the DOT. You are aware if your physical was performed by Dr. Lefteris as his name will be noted on your DOT medical certificate. If you aren’t sure, double-check the certificate to be on the safe side. While you do have 30 days to get a new physical, this can be difficult for OTR truck drivers who are busy with trucking jobs. Whether you drive independently or for companies like CTL Transportation, Liquid Transport, or Sharkey Transportation you will have the same 30 day period to comply.

Getting DOT Physicals Over the Road

One way to combat the time crunch with getting re-certified is to find a certified medical examiner over the road. It is a good idea to use a primary physician or doctor you are familiar with, since this medical professional understands your medical history. Sometimes you don’t have a choice but to choose a CME out of your network. For truck drivers using Dr. Lefteris’s services he was operating out of a Petro truck stop. In general you can get a qualified CME to give you a DOT approved physical exam at most national brand truck stops including some TA truck stops and Pilot Flying J truck stops.

You can also stop into most national drug stores including CVS to get a DOT physical exam. Also those grocery stores that feature urgent care centers, as well as stand alone urgent care facilities, will typically be able to provide you with this exam. However, before you make a pit stop verify that the doctor on call is a certified medical examiner.

How to Choose a Certified Medical Examiner

When you check in with your potential CME do a quick check with the FMCSA to make certain they are qualified to do this exam. You can do this by searching for their name on the FMCSA national registry. If your healthcare provider set to examine you is not on this list, you will not be receiving an approved physical exam. This can put your CDL at risk and you may be flagged for inquiry due to the mistake. While it is not outright your problem that a certified medical examiner is not really a CME, it is your responsibility to verify their credentials.

The reason the FMCSA has this national registry and certification program set up is to dissuade doctors like Dr. Lefteris. Those medical professionals with incredulous scruples who are hoping to make a quick buck are making it dangerous for truck drivers, as well as passenger car drivers, by approving drivers with banned medical conditions.

You might think getting a lax doctor, nurse, or chiropractor to give you a clean bill of health is an easy solution for bypassing the stringent rules of the FMCSA. However these rules have been put into place for your wellbeing and for highway safety. So save yourself the trouble and avoid dealing with docs who obviously are only in it for the money. If your examiner is clearly in the wrong by not giving you a full physical exam, by ignoring your medical complaints, or by signing you off as healthy when you are not, be the better person. Go speak with a new certified medical examiner and get a new physical fast.

 

What You Need to Know About Transferring Your Class A CDL to Another State

Bulkmatic Truck Driver Driving on County RoadOver the road trucking jobs take you from state to state every single day. You could go through four states in the frame of a day, in the Northeast, and not even be tired. If you drive for a company like Baggett Transportation, Boyd Brothers or Bulkmatic you are visiting new states on the regular. You do not need to get your CDL transferred when driving from state to state, even if you are spending more time in another state working than the one you live in. However, if you move to another state that’s another story. Find out what you need to know about transferring your Class A CDL to another state.

Tick, Tock on Transfers

The first thing to do even before you make your move to another state is to go to the new state’s DOT webpage. Every state has one, and as every state has its own requirements for CDL holders, you must check out that state’s site. For example, when you move to Arizona you have 30 days to change your CDL once you become an official resident. Georgia truck drivers have to bring a copy of their MVR from the last 30 days when they transfer an out of state commercial driver’s license.

Moving to Washington state? You have to fill out a self-certification form, as of January 2014, in order to be eligible for transferring your CDL. It takes up to 10 days after the Washington State Department of Licensing receives this for you to be eligible for the CDL transfer. Note that the state of Indiana also requires you to self-certify your driving type prior to getting a CDL transferred.

As you can see every state is different in their requirements and processes for transferring your CDL. Start the process as soon as possible so you have your CDL in place to start a new truck driving job in your new home state.

Documentation for CDL Holders

While each state has its own requirements for documents you must bring when getting your CDL transferred there are some general items you will likely need. These include:

  • Your out of state CDL
  • Proof of residency in your new state
  • Your social security card and/or number
  • US birth certificate or proof of residency
  • Medical examiner certificate for annual DOT physical exam

You will also need to pay a fee for the transfer of your Class A CDL. Typically this is less than $100, unless you have CDL endorsements, such as a tanker endorsement or combo endorsement. Then you will have to pay to transfer each endorsement, but this is typically less than $40 each.

Another item you will need to take care of during the transfer is the vision test. You are required to pass a vision exam prior to getting your new CDL. If you have received an exemption for vision by the DOT you will need to bring the paperwork showing your exemption status.

Retaking the CDL Tests

Do you have to retake your CDL exams, either the written test or the skills/road test, to get a CDL in another state? No this is not the case. You should not have to take these exams over again once you have received your CDL. However, if you decide to upgrade your CDL to include an endorsement, i.e. H endorsement, T endorsement or X combo endorsement, you will have to take specific exams for these.

Lost Paperwork

If you do not have a copy of your old CDL, i.e. it got lost in the move, most states will search the DOT database to verify you have a CDL. However it is a good idea to take along any documentation you have pertaining to being a commercial truck driver. This will help your case in the instance they don’t offer to search the DOT database. If you have lost your DOT medical exam certificate you can simply contact the certified medical examiner, i.e. the doctor, chiropractor or nurse practitioner, who gave you the most recent physical. They have copies of their physical certifications on file and can send you a new one.

 

All About the New Driver Training Standards by the DOT

Trucker Passing Through Construction ZoneIn March 2016 the FMCSA proposed that all new truck drivers, as well as bus drivers, must be trained with new driver training. This training is on par with truck driver training that’s been around for years now through truck driving schools and carriers. That proposal was approved and passed into legislation, to be effective February 2017, which means it is now a requirement. Find out all of the facts about the new driver training standards by the FMCSA and DOT.

Drivers Affected by the Rule

The new rule isn’t in effect as of 2017. It will take until 2020 to see this ruling become actualized. This gives state departments time to create record keeping systems that will meet the FMCSA’s requirements. It also means that rookie drivers won’t be required to take truck driver training courses until February 2020. By that time if you want to get your CDL for the first time you will have to show documentation of passing an approved truck driver training program.

What about truckers who are already driving big rigs and have their CDLs? Not to worry, those truckers will not be affected by this ruling. Also if you are interested in getting your CDL endorsements after 2020, and you already had a CDL prior to this, you will not have to take a training program to get the endorsement.

The new training course is meant to coincide with skills exams aka road testing or behind the wheel testing. Since the endorsement portions of the CDL exam does not require you to take a road test for completion, you will not have to get additional training for endorsement exams. Please note this only applies to over the road truckers with CDLs. If you are a bus driver you must get the P and S endorsements on your CDL for passenger or school bus certification. In this instance you would need training to get the endorsements.

Getting Trained as a Trucker

Who is going to provide this training? How do you know if your trainer is certified according to the FMCSA standards? For starters, any truck driver training school that currently trains truckers is likely to be acceptable. Other places to get trucker training under the rule will include:

  • Technical schools, trade schools, and community education programs at colleges and universities
  • Truck driving schools
  • Rural electric cooperatives
  • Trucking companies and motor carriers
  • Owner operators and independent truck drivers
  • State government agencies
  • Local government agencies
  • School districts
  • Joint labor management programs
  • Individuals at large

These training providers can offer truck driver training for free or for a fee. With so many options for trainers how can you be sure that you are getting training from an approved provider? The FMCSA and DOT will provide a certification program similar to the current way that certified medical examiners are approved for DOT physicals. This will be organized via Training Provider Registration, and applicants must fill out and submit a TPR form to request their certification. There will most likely be a database or registry where all approved or certified training programs and individuals will be listed. It will be up to you to find a truck driving school, program or instructor that qualifies.

Training for Truck Drivers

What can you expect to have to learn during this required training? According to the FMCSA you must have this training before you can apply for a CDL. It will become another one of those mandated forms along with your DOT medical exam certificate. The training required combines both knowledge and behind the wheel training. The curriculum used for your training has to apply to your CDL class, i.e. Class A CDL or Class B CDL. However, you do not have to get the knowledge training and the behind the wheel training at the same time or through the same training provider.

Say you want to go to trucking school to learn the theory part of the training for the knowledge or written test. Then you could choose another provider, such as an individual or owner operator, to provide you with the behind the wheel testing. Considering that most trucking schools do not provide what would be considered ample behind the wheel time for each driver, this is an ideal way to make sure you get that road training.

At the current moment there is no requirement on the minimum number of hours of training. However this was part of the proposal for the rule. The FMCSA states that data will be maintained by the agency regarding how long drivers are training for, along with how safe these drivers are, and then a ruling may be included in the future to stipulate training hour requirements. As it stands, the current requirement for the training is that you get enough training to be able to pass the CDL exam with proficiency. It is up to you to make the judgment call in regard to how much training you need professionally.

One area that the FMCSA does not address is what will happen if a truck driver gets the mandated training and then fails the CDL exam. Will the driver have to retake their training, and if so how many chances do they get? Will drivers have to find new training program providers? Along this route is the question about whether or not training programs and providers will have rating scorecards similar to the CSA scores drivers and carriers currently have. This would be an optimal way for drivers to determine whether or not to get trained by a certain provider.

So what do you think about the new rule? Are you considering any trucking jobs within the next five years, and if so, will having to get new driver training make you rethink your decision? For experienced drivers, do you think this new rule will bring more qualified drivers onto the highways?

Trucking Companies Hiring Vets Reap The Benefits

Truck With American Flag Painted TrailerWhen you enlist in the US military you have a good idea of what to expect. Strict discipline, physical training, rigorous exercise, dedication. These traits are drilled into you during your boot camp phase and reiterated at every stage of your military career. For the majority of vets who’ve been out of service for a year, five years, even 50 years, these character traits are still prominent in their personality. For vets who also trained to be a heavy truck driver when in the military they offer trucking companies a one-two punch in terms of being a solid trucking job candidate.

Rebooting After a Military Career

Retiring from the military isn’t something you do when you are 65. According to the Pew Research Center those enlisted in the military serve for an average of 6.7 years. If you are an officer your average years spent in service is 10.9 years. This means for soldiers who enlisted after high school at 18, they are getting out of the military when they are between 25 and 29 years old. That’s very young in terms of retiring from a career and refocusing to something in-country.

For military veterans who have trained to drive heavy trucks and commercial fleets overseas, they come back to the US with some serious trucking skills and driving experience. In addition to having behind the wheel experience, these drivers are typically trained in diesel mechanic work and truck repair. These skills strike a strong chord for companies hoping to hire drivers with hefty knowledge of how a truck operates. Military vets may not have a CDL but they definitely aren’t rookie truck drivers.

Getting a CDL and Trucking Job as a Vet

While it sounds like common sense that military veterans with truck driving experience would be a shoe-in for US trucking jobs, it’s not that simple of a situation. The main problem for vets looking for trucking jobs is that they do not have a commercial driver’s license. When you go to the military and drive for the Army, National Guard, Marines, etc. you are provided with truck driver training and job skills needed to get the job done right. They grant you a military-issued truck driver’s license, which isn’t transferable to the CDL.

Even though truck driver safety is imperative here on US highways, this is no comparison to the importance of safety for military truck drivers. So while a vet trucker will not return from active duty with a CDL, they are highly trained and adept at driving a big truck if that is the task they were given when in service. Fortunately the FMCSA is finally moving past this roadblock for vets searching for truck driving work here at home. The FAST Act bill, which also paved the way for e-logs, is on the right track toward granting military veterans CDLs.

Now vets are approved for a Military Skills Test waiver for these truckers who are applying to get a CDL. This covers the road test requirement, which means these drivers only have to pass the written exam to get their CDL. This only makes sense for these truckers who have proven trucking skills while under the watchful eye of the US military. Additionally, both the military and truck driving industry are vetted by the federal government, which puts them on par with one another in terms of safety requirements.

Trucking Companies Hiring Vets

A major reason why this change has finally taken place in favor of truck drivers who are veterans is because the trucking industry needs drivers. As more of our truckers are retiring and leaving the industry in favor of more home time and due to health restrictions, we need to fill those seats with qualified drivers. Military vets are a wonderful asset to both our nation and the trucking industry. By making it easier to become a trucker driving for trucking companies like Coretrans, GSTC or MBM Trucking it’s a win-win situation all around.

Benefits for these trucking companies begin with the fact that vets are well vetted by the federal government. Every move they’ve made as a trucker while in service is documented and analyzed by their superiors. If these vets were to get out of line in a serious enough manner it would warrant a dishonorable discharge. A quick look at their work record would stipulate this information. As a trucking employer this transparency allows you to hire vets without question of their work history.

As noted already individuals who have served in the military have a strong work ethic and dedication to routine in general. If you want to hire drivers who get loads delivered on time, arrive at the lot ready to work promptly, and are professional when communicating with customers, go with a military vet trucker. These drivers have such skills engrained in their being, which benefits trucking employers, fellow drivers, and customers all around.

If you are a military vet who is looking for a trucking job bring to light your accomplishments and service record. Also be proud of your service for our nation. While not every trucking employer is a great fit for your trucking job expectations, there are plenty of companies out there like Willis Shaw Express or USA Truck that would be honored to have you behind the wheel of one of their rigs.

 

Truck Driver Training with the Scania Truck Driving Simulator

White Truck Driver Cruising Down County Road

You need to practice driving a semi so you can get your CDL. Yet you don’t know any truckers and have no clue of how to borrow a big rig. That does not matter to your CDL examiner, who expects you to pass the road test and the written exam. What can you do? Consider the Scania Truck Driving Simulator. This video game transforms the way you can practice driving a truck. Find out whether or not it’s a legitimate way to truly train to be a trucker.

 Getting the Truck Driving Game

The Scania Truck Driving Simulator was first released in 2012. It is available on Microsoft Windows and Mac operating systems. Here’s the pricing:

  • For Windows systems $24.99 for a digital download to your computer
  • On iTunes for Mac computers $11.99
  • For iPhones the Scania Truck Driving Simulator 2017 version is $1.99

It’s available in several languages including English, Spanish, French, Croatian, and Russian. Just a glance at the screenshots of the game show that it is a beautifully designed game. It looks very realistic and detailed. On the Mac version it nearly appears like an actual video feed rather than a computer game. That’s a major plus for drivers who want to get a true truck driving simulation experience.

What to Expect

The simulator is set up with truck driver training in mind. You are presented with 10 maneuvering challenges that help you practice these tricky trucking skills without being behind the wheel. In terms of the setup you are put in an open city where you drive freely as you deliver loads. Challenges are arranged in a realistic-looking environment that is based on European landscapes.

You have to avoid hitting obstacles when backing in your trailer. You’re sent cruising around a complex track littered with these obstacles. You have to park your semi perfectly to get a good score. All of these challenges help you to hone your driving skills in the real world.

Throughout the challenges real-time situations arise that are similar to those you will face when driving a big rig for trucking companies like Cargo Transporters, Foremost Transport or Navajo Express. You might have to navigate tight curves on mountain passes. Your drive may be jeopardized with sudden rain storms or heavy side winds. Whoa! Your route is blocked due to a construction zone forcing you to think fast and reroute your way.

Just as with actual trucking jobs your main goal throughout the simulator is to deliver hauls for customers. Here’s where you get some autonomy as you are able to pick and choose the freight you haul. Note this isn’t necessarily the case in the real world, but it does give you a chance to learn how to haul different load types. In the end you are a winner if you can deliver your load to the port ferry for delivery.

Scania Driver Competitions

You can also compete in the virtual version Scania Young European Truck Driver Competition via this simulator. In reality these truck driver competitions are hosted worldwide in more than 50 countries. In fact, more than 300,000 truck drivers have competed in the Scania Driver Competitions, which is the largest truck driving and training event in the world. These challenges include road course races, braking, parking and safety measures that are tested in a competition setting. The finals are held annually at the Scania headquarters in Sodertalje, Sweden.

Scania Group Trucking Manufacturer

If you want to get more game play you can visit the virtual Scania Demo center in the simulator to view Scania big rigs. These trucks are the latest models being hailed by this European big rig manufacturer. That’s right, Scania is a real trucking company, and it is based in Sodertalje, Sweden. In fact, Scania is a leading brand of semis in Europe and the UK, as well as Asia and South America. For example, they have offices in Latin America, China, Russia, and India.

Scania trucks are renowned for being energy efficient and low in carbon use. More than 69,000 Scania trucks were sold in 2015, along with more than 8,000 Scania engines. While you are using this truck driving simulator you get a taste of what it would be like to drive trucks in Europe and Asia. As an added bonus the game’s scenery lets you escape for a semi-vacation to some faraway European destination.