- The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) wants to ease the process of obtaining a commercial driver’s license (CDL) and also reduce costs for both potential drivers and licensing agencies within various states, American Shipper reported.
- The first proposal involves military licensing and state CDL reciprocity, allowing state licensing agencies to skip redundant CDL knowledge tests for both experienced veterans and active duty personnel seeking civilian CDLs. The FMCSA has allowed this since 2012, allowing the hiring of roughly 18,800 former military drivers.
- The second extends commercial learner's permit validity from six months to one year. The FMCSA believes the extra time reduces expensive paperwork demands from states and halts needless retests and costs for those needing a six month renewal of their CDL learner’s permit.
Truckers are currently driving longer miles with more freight, largely due to an industry driver shortage. While employable workers have been in short supply for years, the situation is growing worse due to retiring drivers and stringent hiring rules.
At present, the industry may be up to 100,000 drivers short, per data collected by Driver Solutions. As that number is predicted to expand significantly by 2022, current industry initiatives include increased time at home, safe driver performance initiatives, and greater first year advancement opportunities, which are vital for retention improvement. Some companies are also offering free CDL training in exchange for signing up for employment.
A driver shortage is not just a trucking industry problem, however. As strains on the supply chain grow, so does the dependence on trucking, and therefore truckers. In theory, a short supply of any factor — including trucking labor — would raise rates significantly.
However, such increases are not always passed on to drivers. The median truck driver salary was just $41,746 as of May 30, 2017, according to ZipRecruiter data on salary.com. Other data shows higher pay — Glassdoor reports a median income of $54,000 for truckers, while the American Trucking Associations say a driver may make up to $73,000.
Regardless of the pay differential, more freight, longer hours and increased compliance burdens threaten to aggravate an existing shortage. The FMCSA's turn to CDLs for help should help ease the problem a little by, at minimum, allowing easier new drivers' entry to the market and existing drivers' ability to hold on to their license.