What is an ELD? Driver training committee struggles for consensus

By Jami Jones, Land Line managing editor | 3/19/2015

In the world of trucking regulations, alphabet soup rules supreme. It seems every agency, program, regulation, device and even people have an acronym. 

Most see ELD and still think electronic logging devices. That acronym has been repurposed for entry-level driver.

First order of business for the Entry-Level Driver Training Advisory Committee meeting in Washington, D.C., March 19-20, was to define ELDs – or more specifically who entry-level driver training requirements would apply to.

The answer is not something so simple as grabbing a dictionary and defining what entry-level is. It turned into a lengthy discussion peppered with “what ifs” and differing points of view.

The committee of 26 industry stakeholders wrangled with a variety of scenarios originating from their unique perspectives.

Considering that the committee includes representatives from everything from the FMCSA to large fleet associations to law enforcement to driving school associations to OOIDA all the way to an owner-operator – finding consensus on a definition proved problematic.

The FMCSA proposed that entry-level driver training apply to those who have never held a CDL, those upgrading CDLs, those obtaining hazmat and passenger endorsements and those reinstating their CDLs.

The most significant sticking point was whether reinstatements should be required to retake the entire entry-level driver training.

OOIDA Director of Regulatory Affairs Scott Grenerth pointed to a recent trend of CDL downgrades because of glitches in the new medical registry program.

He advocated to the group that drivers should not be subjected to repeating training because of a clerical error.

Owner-operator Bryan Spoon pressed for going through the training only once. He said reinstatements should be a state issue.

A representative from the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, Bob Tershak, and Peter Kurdock of Advocates for Automotive and Highway Safety advocated for retraining.

A chorus of varying opinions from a number of participants dominated the lengthy conversation much of the morning.

Scenarios ran the gamut of short lapses in a valid CDL to one where an individual spent 10 years out of trucking.

The fundamental purpose of the Entry-Level Driver Training Advisory Committee is to reach consensus on a driver training rule. That means also reaching consensus on who the reg would apply to.

Twice in two meetings, the group has moved forward without a definition of who the rule will apply to.

While possibly close to agreement, the committee will take up the possibility of refresher courses for lapsed CDLs at a future meeting before finalizing who will face driver training.

The rest of the first day included presentations from various driver training associations, schools and motor carriers on their varied current curriculums.

Day two has cost-benefit discussions as well as breakout sessions for committees to begin work on framing together proposals on everything from curriculum to certification of providers to implementation.

This is the second of six planned two-day meetings. The goal set by FMCSA and the facilitator is to have consensus on a regulation recommendation by the end of the final meeting May 29.

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