Driver shortages remain a major challenge for fleets across the country. That’s because the industry lacks an estimated 80,000 drivers, a number estimated to rise to 160,000 by 2030.
Compounding the problem is the aging demographic of the commercial trucking industry. The average age of commercial truck drivers in the United States is currently 48 years old.
An important recruitment strategy for fleets is to bring in younger drivers, and in many states, 18-year-olds can now qualify for a CDL even though they can only operate a commercial vehicle within their state. Once drivers turn 21, they are allowed to drive interstate.
To keep new and young drivers safe, the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Administration (FMCSA) mandates that all new drivers complete Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT), a national core safety standard, prior to their Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) test. Many fleet carriers are now certified ELDT training sites so they can quickly join and train new drivers.
ELDT program requirements
The ELDT training requirements for entry-level drivers relate to the Standard Safety Requirements for operating commercial vehicles. This applies to:
- Entry-level drivers who want to earn a Class A or Class B CDL for the first time
- Drivers who wish to upgrade their existing Class B CDL to a Class A CDL
- Drivers who want a school bus (S), passenger (P), or hazardous materials (H) endorsement for the first time
The rules came into effect for those who apply for a Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP) on or after February 7, 2022.
The requirements for the ELDP include both theoretical training and training behind the wheel. Curriculum includes:
- Lectures, demonstrations and computer-based online learning
- Orientation training, basic operation, safe operating practices, advanced operations, and non-driving activities such as logging or moving goods on site
- A score of at least 80% in the assessment
For behind-the-wheel training, this includes:
- Training in CMV takes place on a public scale or road
- Simulation is not allowed
- Drivers are trained in basic vehicle control skills and basic maneuvers. The instructor determines the driver’s proficiency level.
ELDT training log
The ELDT requires that fleets provide training to join their training registry, allowing drivers to find and contact fleet managers directly. To qualify as an in-class instructor, instructors must have at least two years of CDL driving and have trailer towing experience. To provide behind-the-wheel training, driver instructors must have two years of experience as behind-the-wheel instructors.
Young new employees must complete all of their training before going to their state licensing department to take a CDL skills test. The FMCSA requires the instructor to enter all relevant information into their system within 24 hours of completion of the training to enable the student to take the exam.
Coaches must also keep their CDL in good standing and deliver good quality coaching. If the FMCSA determines that a trainer is not doing their job, it can remove that individual from the training record.
Nancy Ross Anderson is a Loss Control Specialist and Certified Safety Expert with IAT Insurance Group with nearly 40 years of fleet safety experience.