UPS exemption request open to comment through Oct. 23

October 14, 2020

Mark Schremmer

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After being denied last year, the United Parcel Service is again trying to convince the FMCSA to exempt the company from requiring training instructors to have two years of driving experience.

The reconsideration request by UPS is open to public comment through Oct. 23.

“UPS believes that its current process of preparing driver trainers exceeds any skill set gained merely by operating a tractor-trailer for two years,” the notice stated. “UPS also believes that a two-year experience requirement doesn’t automatically equate to success as a commercial motor vehicle driver trainer.”

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 an equivalent level of safety, and the request for exemption is hereby denied.”

The first exemption request prompted 112 comments from the public with 58 in favor, 51 opposed and three with no position.

As of Oct. 14, only 12 comments had been submitted, with the majority of them supporting the exemption. Many of the comments appear to be from UPS employees.

“From what I have witnessed in the industry, two years is plenty of time for a driver to get away from proper methods and to start taking shortcuts,” wrote Ryan Voleck, manager and trainer at UPS. “Over time, those shortcuts become bad habits. I have found the shorter the time period from graduating the UPS training school prior to training drivers the more accurate the trained methods are retained. That is also the reason trainers are requalified periodically making sure their methods are maintained.”

 Truck driver Michael Millard opposed the exemption.  

“No disrespect to UPS,” Millar wrote in his comments. “However, I doubt there’s a training program available that matches two years behind the wheel contending with traffic, tight docks, various weather conditions, etc.”

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.

FMCSA’s entry-level driver training rule was set to go into effect Feb. 7, 2020, but the agency announced in November that it opted to move the implementation of the rule until 2022.

OOIDA said the delay was a contradiction to safety.

“Delaying the rule directly contradicts FMCSA’s mission of reducing crashes, injuries and fatalities involving large trucks,” OOIDA President and CEO Todd Spencer said. “Truckers will tell you the best way to promote safety is improving the driver training requirements, and right now too many new drivers enter the industry without the basic skills or knowledge to safely operate a commercial motor vehicle.”

Comments may be made here or by going to the Regulations.gov website and entering Docket ID FMCSA-2019-0139-0123. 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.