Legal Lane: New CDL Driver Education
December 1, 2011
October 6, 2011 found me at the National Association for Publicly Funded Truck Driving Schools Region (NAPFTDS) 6 Conference meeting in Chattanooga, TN where I acted as the Master of Ceremonies for this association meeting. The meeting was heavily attended and the information transfer was good. The goal of NAPFTDS is to educate and train new CDL drivers for the trucking industry, something they are very good about.
The meeting was sponsored by Chattanooga State Community College and USXpress Enterprises, Inc. in Chattanooga. We had speakers from both the American Trucking Association and the Truckload Carriers Association, several states trucking associations and members of the industry, both education and trucking. The overall impression of the meeting was; Trucking is not ready or capable at the current time to bring in enough new CDL drivers to cover the expected requirement for drivers to effectively haul the amount of freight this country needs in order to grow its way out of this recession.
Dave Osiecki, Senior VP of Policy & Regulatory Affairs, ATA, spoke about the upcoming new regulations for Hours of Service and EOBRs. In his opinion, the new HOS regulations will immediately be challenged in court upon their release. The EOBRs will be mandated but will take several years before they are fully implemented into all trucks by regulation. Note: the State Associations informed us the US Congress has a proposed bill before it that will remove EOBRs from FMCSA and codify (make it a law of the land not a regulation) EOBRs such that every truck will be required to have one to operate, but that information will be limited to HOS only.
Lane Kidd, President Arkansas Trucking, and Chris Burruss, President Truckload Carriers Association, spoke about the Public/Private Partnerships in Arkansas and throughout the country. The public part of this partnership is with the state providing monies to the schools to create new CDL drivers that reside in their state, but allow the new CDL driver to work for any company. This is the state spending money to give its citizens a good paying job to get this country back to work. The private partnership is with carriers, and there are many, that pay a part or all of the CDL school tuition for students so they can go to work for that carrier usually for 6 months or a year and the tuition is forgiven.
Brett Wacker, VP Corporate Maintenance, Arnold Transportation Services, spoke about how carriers use their equipment and new technologies to be more efficient for both carrier and shipper, safer for the driver and the motoring public. Brett impressed everyone with his almost rocket scientist knowledge of managing and improving the maintenance department within a carrier. His job is getting the equipment on the road to perform safely, withstand roadside inspections to protect the carrier and the driver on their CSA scores and for the driver to return home safe and sound. I truly did find his presentation almost like being at NASA’s Houston terminal where they control everything about the rocket launch and the astronaut’s safe return from the moon. I almost expected the hear someone say, “Houston, we have a problem!”; that is how close to NASA Brett made his presentation.
David Saunders, CEO Compliance Safety Systems, spoke about the data available to everyone about everything a carrier and a driver do on the road. He showed how his Truckers Matter website can provide current information for a carrier about their CSA scores, the driver scores, how to train their drivers, plus how to recruit drivers with good CSA scores. Scary thing is how much information is out there about you right now.
Bryan Fannis, Product Manager, RigDig, showed how to track a truck, think truck-fax, through its VIN number that will show every accident, inspection, insurance repair. In fact, he showed us the life of a truck with every contact with enforcement when they use the VIN number. So next time you get paperwork form enforcement, look and see if the truck VIN number is on that paperwork. If it is it will show in a database, probably with your CDL number attached. Did I say before it is scary how much information is out there about you right now?
Max Fuller, Co-Chairman, U.S. Xpress Enterprises, Inc., spoke about meeting the demand for drivers and what could be done to bring more people into driving trucks. One comment that sticks out from the group was that nothing much will be done until there is no more toilet paper on the shelves at the grocery store. Then and only then will drivers, carriers and shippers wake up and really fix the driver shortage. He suggested that shorter hauls, regional type runs to get drivers home more often, more involvement of the shippers as carriers are unable to supply trucks to shippers who take advantage of the driver, and of course higher pay for CDL drivers. We have 9.1% unemployment now, but not enough of those people are willing to drive a truck. Something has to change to make driving a truck a better job.
You want better pay, you want better hauls, you want more home time, then you need to make sure you are not one of the drivers the CSA rules are driving out of trucking due to your CSA score. Cowboy days are gone and now you will need to educate yourself about the CSA rules and regulations and make sure you follow them. Every time you get written up for speeding, your log or your equipment it will cost you and your carrier in CSA points. Get enough points and the insurance people will not allow the carrier to keep you because you then become a liability to the carrier. Scary how much information is out there about you and so easy to get by enforcement and plaintiff lawyers. Protect yourself, drive safe, drive maintained equipment and talk with your carrier about how you can do a better job keeping CSA points off both your record and theirs.
Jim C. Klepper is President of Interstate Trucker Ltd., a law firm entirely dedicated to legal defense of the nation’s commercial drivers. Interstate Trucker represents truck drivers throughout the forty-eight (48) states on both moving and non-moving violations. Jim is also president of Drivers Legal Plan, which allows member drivers access to his firm’s services at greatly discounted rates. Jim, a former prosecutor, is also a registered pharmacist, with considerable experience in alcohol and drug related cases. He is a lawyer that has focused on transportation law and the trucking industry in particular. He works to answer your legal questions about trucking and life over-the-road and has his Commercial Drivers License.
800-333-DRIVE (3748) or www.interstatetrucker.com and www.driverslegalplan.com