The U.S. economy depends on trucks to deliver nearly $670 billion worth of manufactured and retail goods annually. It’s estimated that 15.5 million trucks operate in the U.S., transporting over 70% of the country’s freight. These numbers are only expected to increase, as online shopping for the retail industry continues growing year-over-year, creating a huge demand for shipped goods.
It seems like good news. However, the U.S. is also experiencing a shortage of truck drivers, according to the American Trucking Association (ATA). The ATA estimates that the U.S. is currently short 50,000 drivers with that number expected to climb to 175,000 by 2026. The industry is hoping that revised regulations and a renewed interest in the profession will lead to more individuals becoming licensed commercial truck drivers.
Operating a commercial motor vehicle requires a greater level of knowledge, experience and physical ability than merely driving a car. Therefore, federal government regulates Commercial Driver’s Licenses (CDL) with permit tests to help keep highways and roads safe. Every state may also necessitate additional requirements, which can be found by visiting a particular state’s Department of Motor Vehicle’s website.
One recent commercial transportation update looks to help attract new truck drivers to the profession and increase opportunities for current drivers as well. Since the federal government is aware of the shortage of drivers, it has committed to reforming redundant regulations that make it difficult and cumbersome for driver trainees to get their commercial licenses.
New Rule Expected to Save Drivers Time and Money
On March 5, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced a new final regulatory rule, streamlining the process for commercial drivers when upgrading from a Class B to a Class A CDL. This amends the old rule established in 2016 that required the same level of theory training for individuals obtaining their CDL for the first time as for those who already held a Class B CDL and were simply upgrading to a Class A CDL.
The final rule is estimated by FMCSA to provide significant savings to companies and driver trainees of approximately $18 million annually. The agency estimates that over 11,000 eligible driver trainees will benefit yearly and experience an average reduction of 27 hours in time spent completing their theory instruction, which are units that are related to non-driving activities.
The final rule does not change the behind-the-wheel (range and public road) training requirements included in the 2016 rule. Furthermore, FMCSA says the final rule, “will maintain the same level of safety” established previously. For truck drivers, it helps reduce time spent attaining a Class A CDL, which has the potential to increase job opportunities and their paychecks. For businesses, it gets trained drivers on the road more quickly to help grow the business.
Beyond obtaining the necessary license, it is also crucial for business owners to provide new drivers with safety training and onboarding to ensure drivers understand safety best practices and procedures before operating a vehicle. Most workplace injuries and accidents occur within the first few weeks on the job. In 2013, nearly one-third of injuries or illnesses occurred by employees with less than one year of service. Important safety topics to reinforce include:
- Distracted Driving Prevention & Cell Phone Policy
- City Routes (if driving in urban/dense areas)
- Three Points of Contact Safety
- Fleet Technology (dash cameras, telematics)
- Driver Fatigue
- Speed and Space Management
- Defensive Driving
These are just a few suggested topics to cover with any new hire joining your team. The Acadia Loss Control team is available to provide additional tips and resources to Acadia Insurance customers. For more information, contact a Loss Control representative or your independent insurance agent. To find an agent near you, visit acadiainsurance.com
Acadia Insurance is pleased to share this material with its customers. Please note, however, that nothing in this document should be construed as legal advice or the provision of professional consulting services. This material is for general informational purposes only, and while reasonable care has been utilized in compiling this information, no warranty or representation is made as to accuracy or completeness.