OOIDA pushes back against UPS driver training exemption request

October 23, 2020

Mark Schremmer

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The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association formally opposed the United Parcel Service’s request for an exemption from FMCSA’s entry-level driver training rule.

After being denied last year, UPS issued a reconsideration request that would make the company exempt from the rule’s requirement that training instructors have at least two years of experience. The request was open to public comments until Oct. 23.

OOIDA, which has long advocated for an entry-level driver training rule, has opposed the request from UPS both times.

“OOIDA has supported national entry-level driver training standards for decades,” the Association wrote. “In our opinion, the best way to promote safety is to improve driver training requirements. Currently, too many new drivers enter the industry without the basic skills to safely operate a CMV. While the ELDT rulemaking that will finally go into effect in 2022 is far from optimal, the regulation does establish adequate minimum qualifications for training instructors. The rule also outlines an essential process for registering training providers that will hold schools and instructors accountable for their performance.”

The Association said UPS didn’t present any new information in the reconsideration request that should warrant an exemption.

“The minimum experience standards for trainers included in the final rule were built on recommendations from the ELDT Advisory Committee, a group of 26 stakeholders consisting of industry experts and are firmly rooted in highway safety,” OOIDA wrote. “Additionally, the two-year delay of the final ELDT rule issued by FMCSA earlier this year provides sufficient time for all entities, including UPS, to prepare their respective training programs and be in compliance for the February 2022 implementation date.”

Read the Association’s full comments here.

The initial exemption request published in the Federal Register in June 2019 with UPS saying that its eight-week driver training school, which has trained employees without any previous CDL experience, is a sufficient way to develop driver instructors.

FMCSA denied the initial UPS request, saying that there is no substitute for commercial motor vehicle driving experience.

“In the agency’s judgment, the rigorous instructor training provided by UPS, while laudable, is not a substitute for commercial motor vehicle driving experience,” FMCSA wrote. “UPS therefore fails to provide an alternative to the instructor requirements likely to ensure and equivalent level of safety, and the request for exemption is hereby denied.”

In the reconsideration request, UPS said the exemption is necessary because of “turnover issues” with driver trainers. According to the FMCSA notice, UPS said it had to hire 100 candidates in an attempt to get 50 trainers across the United States. Of the 100 hired, UPS said it was able to retain only 38 trainers.

OOIDA also opposed UPS’ request to be exempt from the requirement to separately register each training location for a unique Training Providing Registry number. LL

Mark Schremmer

Mark Schremmer, senior editor, joined Land Line in 2015. An award-winning journalist and former assistant news editor at The Topeka Capital-Journal, he brings fresh ideas, solid reporting skills, and more than two decades of journalism experience to our staff.