Entry level driver training (ELDT) is scheduled to go into effect on Feb 7, 2022. The sooner you get started, the easier it will be to comply.

While at first glance the task may seem daunting, know that the consequences of putting it off are much more unpleasant. Noncompliant schools could face fines and possible closure while prospective commercial drivers license (CDL) applicants who took training from those schools won’t be allowed to test for their CDL.

Here are our top 10 reasons to get started on ELDT today.

1). Your instructors may not be qualified anymore.

According to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA), all ELDT instructors must meet the following qualifications:

  1. Hold a CDL of the same (or higher) class as the commercial vehicle for which they’re providing training, and
  2. Have at least two years’ experience driving a commercial vehicle of that class or have at least 2 years’ experience as a behind the wheel (BTW) instructor for commercial vehicles.

If current instructors don’t meet those qualifications already, it’s going to take time to bring them up to speed – up to two years depending on which qualifications they lack. This means you might also need to hire new instructors to fill the gap in the meantime. Given the shortage of qualified training professionals, you really can’t afford to wait on this one.

2). Document, document, document.

It’s not enough to be fully compliant by the deadline. When applying to become an approved training provider through the TPR (which also needs to happen by Feb. 7, 2022), CDL schools need to self-certify that they meet all ELDT requirements and, crucially, have documentation in place to back it up.

The application process for CDL schools looks like this:

  1. Submit an electronic application to the TPR to become an approved training provider.
  2. Self-certify that they meet all ELDT requirements.
  3. Affirm, under penalty of perjury, that they will only teach the prescribed ELDT curriculum.
  4. In the event of an audit, they must supply documentation proving ELDT compliance.

It’s best to get all that documentation in place well before an audit happens. In other words, document as you go. It’s a bit of extra work upfront that could save you huge amounts of time and money down the road.

3). Federal funding could be at stake.

Many public community colleges offer CDL training. Because ELDT is a federal regulation, these schools risk losing federal funding if their CDL programs aren’t ready for ELDT in time, meaning your most trusted training spots are off the table. As part of the Nationally Association of Publicly Funded Truck Driving Schools (NAPFTDS) Code of Ethics, schools must “ensure that educational and business practices are in observance to applicable laws, regulations and accrediting standards.”

Most colleges plan their curriculum months in advance, so depending on your school’s specific schedule and curriculum planning process, you might need to be ready even sooner.

4). Longer completion times will be the new normal.

Currently, training requirements for CDLs are set by the states and vary widely. In some states, trainees can go from starting training to testing for their CDL in as little as a couple of weeks. All that changes when ELDT goes into effect. The industry predicts that ELDT’s robust new curriculum requirements could add at least a week to CDL trainees’ completion time.

Is your company prepared and ready to absorb that extra week? If the answer is anything but a confident “yes!”, you’ve got work to do.

5). Two words: Curriculum audit.

The curriculum requirements have two parts: a theory portion and a BTW portion. The theory portion consists of 30+ federally mandated areas such as speed management, hazard perception, roadside inspections and distracted driving. Trainees must pass a written or online test at 80% or better to demonstrate proficiency.

The BTW portion is further divided into range training and public road training, with specific instruction requirements for each. It’s up to instructors to assess driver-trainee BTW proficiency and it’s a bit of a gray area. Without clear guidance from the Department of Transportation, be sure to look for a school to show that they’re assessing students and instructors consistently.

6). Scantrons, scores and systems, oh my!

Under ELDT, CDL schools must administer written or online tests on the theory portion of the curriculum and trainees must score 80% or better before they’re allowed to sit for their CDL. DMVs are still responsible for testing CDL applicants’ BTW and inspection skills.

We don’t know exactly how schools will be required to share this information with FMCSA and/or local DMVs. In the meantime, we continue to monitor the situation and will post an update as soon as we learn more.

7). Record-keeping. All the record-keeping.

Test scores aren’t the only thing CDL schools are required to track. Fleets should advise trainees to ensure that the following information is correct at their school, as it will be shared with the FMCSA:

  • Contact information
  • Copy of commercial learning permit
  • Hours spent in BTW training
  • Certificate upon completion

This data is appended to the trainee’s driving record. Local DMV employees will then be able to look up a CDL applicant’s record and see that they’ve taken and passed approved training. In the meantime, schools also need to keep track of this data.

8). Better recruiting and job placement.

Despite (or perhaps because of) the driver shortage, companies are at-times disappointed with the quality and training of the drivers hired. By vocalizing support for ELDT standards sooner, companies show better-trained drivers that they’re welcome, better increasing quality recruitment and retainment.

But don’t take our word for it. Tim Blum, executive director of the Professional Truck Driver Institute, states, “trucking companies can benefit from sources that graduate drivers who meet the standards,” he says. To that end, he encourages fleets to urge CDL schools “to adapt and meet the new requirements sooner rather than later.”

9). Don’t get stuck at the back of the line.

There’s a limited number of vendors equipped to help drivers become ELDT-compliant. As the February 7th deadline approaches, they’re going to get busier and busier assisting their existing clients and closing deals in their pipeline. Wait too long to reach out, and you might not find anyone with the bandwidth to help your new drivers become fully compliant in time to meet the deadline.

10). ELDT is going to be a lot of extra work.

With all the new rules, ELDT will add more complexity. But you can make your life easier by using SambaSafety’s entry level driver training platform, On Ramp. On Ramp will take several things off your plate, including:

  • Developing a compliant curriculum
  • Administering and scoring tests
  • Recording and storing all required data

You also save time and money with online training, which can help you make up for some of the lost efficiency from longer student completion times. Prefer classroom training so you can add context to the video? We have a Group Training mode for that, and it also includes testing!

To learn more about how you can benefit from On Ramp’s ELDT, schedule your demo today!

 

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