TRUCKS Act provides regulatory relief to small trucking businesses

At a time when 80,000 truck drivers are missing, new legislation introduced by Sen. Mike Rounds, RS.D., aims to lower Obama-era regulations requiring additional training for trucks -Require drivers for the agricultural sector or small businesses.

In 2012, then-President Barack Obama signed legislation enacting a new rule that created a requirement for entry-level driver training. The final rulemaking went into effect earlier this year. All new drivers wishing to obtain their commercial driver’s license must now complete the ELDT.

In addition, this requirement is costly and time-consuming, according to the Rounds office. ELDT training courses range from $450 to $8,500 depending on the trainer and can last from three to 20 days.

Rounds legislation, the Trucking Regulations Unduely Constricting Known Service-Providers (TRUCKS) Act, would allow states to enact a new “Small Business Restricted CDL” so the ELDT requirements would not affect small businesses with nine CDLs or fewer would. This would ensure that drivers who receive a CDL without completing the ELDT process cannot move to a larger company and bring a Small Business Restricted CDL with them.

Additionally, it would protect small businesses from these restrictive regulations so they can fill their vacancies on time and remain competitive in the industry. In addition, the TRUCKS Act would allow states to exempt employees of agricultural-related industries, school districts, and local government units (including counties, municipalities, and tribals) from ELDT requirements to receive their CDL.

“At a time when our country is in recession, facing labor shortages and supply chain issues, American companies shouldn’t have to fight the heavy hand of government,” Rounds said. “We should work on policies that help our producers and consumers, not hurt them. This legislation relieves small trucking companies, agricultural producers, school districts and local government units. It also gives power back to states to set their own rules of the road.”

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In 2012, Obama signed the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) law into law. The law includes a provision that adds an additional section on CDLs to federal law. The provision directed the Secretary of Transport to enact regulations setting the minimum entry-level driver education requirements for a person operating a commercial motor vehicle.

An interim final rule for 2020 was finalized in June 2021 with a compliance deadline of February 7, 2022. The EDLT regulation applies to people who want to acquire a class A or B CDL for the first time, a passenger (P), HAZMAT (H ) or school bus (S) for the first time or when trying to acquire from a class CDL B to a Class A CDL or from a Class C CDL to a Class B CDL. The Class A CDL allows truckers to drive vehicles heavier than what is only permitted with a Class B CDL. ELDT does not apply to those who receive a Class C CDL.

Prior to the implementation of ELDT, applicants had to do the following to receive a CDL:

  • Get a medical certificate (if required for your surgery, there are some exceptions)
  • Complete the CDL application and pay the state fee
  • Provide proof of identity
  • Pass knowledge test
  • Use a Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP) in a commercial vehicle with another CDL holder for a specific time determined by the state (minimum wait time varies by state).
  • Back to the State Licensing Bureau for the road test – pass the road test
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Under this new rule, CDL applicants must meet the following additional ELDT requirements:

  • Drivers must attend theory and driving lessons PRIOR to taking the CDL knowledge test for a CLP
  • Training must be conducted by a legal entity or individual listed on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Register of Training Providers (trainers must be self-certified).
  • The State Driver Licensing Authority must verify that training has been completed before the driver can go to the DMV to obtain a CDL (this is done via electronic records uploaded by the trainer).

Reduced regulations welcomed

This legislation is supported by the Associated School Boards of South Dakota and has been endorsed by the US Custom Harvesters.

“While we understand the need for CDL standards, the new rules have a significant impact on local school districts trying to hire bus drivers,” said Wade Pogany, executive director of South Dakota’s Associated School Boards. “School bus drivers are hard to find in the country.”

JC Schemper, US Custom Harvesters, Inc., Chairman and co-owner of Schemper Harvesting, a multi-generation family owned and operated custom harvesting company, welcomed the action. “The additional investment of time and money required for ELDT creates hurdles for harvesters to meet farmer demand. We support security measures, but when every state has stringent security measures and regulations in place that our members adhere to, ELDT is unnecessary red tape.”

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This bill was co-sponsored by Sens. John Hoeven, RN.D., Roger Marshall, R-Kan., and Kevin Cramer, RN.D.

“At a time when we already have driver shortages and ongoing supply chain constraints, FMCSA’s new training requirements are increasing costs and discouraging new drivers from entering the workforce,” says Hoeven. “Our legislation provides important regulatory facilitation and flexibility by allowing exceptions for agriculture, small businesses, and state and local governments. This will help ensure farmers, ranchers and other small businesses, as well as school districts and other government agencies, have access to the reliable and affordable transportation services they need while keeping our roads safe.”

Marshall explains that custom harvesters are being over-regulated across Kansas by federal lawmakers who have never worked on a harvesting crew. “The ELDT requirements for new drivers are onerous for small hauliers and this legislation is sensible reform to remove barriers for small businesses, farmers and harvester crews who are already under pressure to find an adequate number of drivers. “

“With current supply chain issues and a nationwide shortage of truck drivers at a time of tremendous demand, the last thing the transportation industry needs is more overblown, bureaucratic red tape imposed on it by the Biden administration,” Cramer said. “The TRUCKS Act allows states to exempt certain drivers from the new ELDT requirements and provide regulatory relief to small trucking companies to ensure we have drivers on the road to keep interstate commerce flowing.”

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