Senate bill aims to end ELDT requirements for smaller fleets

Senate Republicans on Thursday introduced a bill that would allow small fleets of nine CDL holders or fewer to skip the entry-level driver training requirement by allowing states to issue a new “CDL restricted to small enterprises “.

Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND), a member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee, introduced the bill with Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD) in hopes of “removing burdensome government regulations, which impact the agriculture industry, school districts, and trucking businesses.”

The ELDT regulations, introduced in 2012 by the administration of then-President Barack Obama, added courses and the use of a trainer on a registry of training providers, maintained by the FMCSA, to the steps necessary to for a driver to obtain a commercial learner’s permit. The regulations finally came into full effect on February 7 this year, meaning any drivers still seeking CLP at that time would have to take the additional course and find a registered trainer in some sort of upheaval for the industry that had already established training protocols.

Although some small fleets certified to provide pre-CDL training continue to follow protocols to pay operators who do this work in the field, Cramer argued that training courses can cost between $450 and $8,500 and that they can take anywhere from three to 20 days to complete. The senator tackled the “heavy duty requirement” in light of oft-repeated estimates by the American Trucking Associations of a nationwide trucking shortage of 80,000 drivers.

[Related: House of Reps hears blunt assessment of ‘driver shortage’]

Cramer’s bill, backed by Rounds and Senators John Hoeven (R-ND) and Roger Marshall (R-KS), is called the Trucking Regulatory Known Service Providers (TRUCKS) Act, which, according to them, “would ensure that any driver obtaining a CDL without completing the ELDT process could not move to a larger company and bring a ‘Small Business Restricted CDL’ with them.”

“Furthermore, it would protect small businesses from these restrictive regulations so they can fill their positions in a timely manner and remain competitive in the industry,” according to a statement from Cramer’s website. “Additionally, the TRUCKS Act would allow states to exempt employees of agriculture-related industries, school districts, and local government units (including counties, municipalities, and tribes) from ELDT requirements to obtain their CDL.”

Cramer went on to highlight supply chain issues “in a time of enormous demand,” saying “the last thing the transportation industry needs is more authoritarian bureaucracy imposed by the Biden administration. The TRUCKS Act allows states to exempt certain drivers from new ELDT requirements and provide regulatory relief to small trucking companies by ensuring we have drivers on the road to keep interstate commerce moving.

The other co-sponsoring senators took aim at the impact of ELDT regulations on farmers and small businesses, with Marshall saying “Kansas’ custom harvesters are being over-regulated by federal policymakers who have never worked on a harvesting crew”, and that the TRUCKS Act represented “common sense reform to remove barriers for small businesses, farmers and contract harvesting teams who are already struggling to find sufficient numbers of drivers”.

[Related: ‘Entry Level’ truck driver training: How old-school training ways are surviving]

Wabash’s new Acutherm trailer sub-brand

Wabash introduced a new portfolio of Wabash Acutherm solutions designed for intelligent thermal management. The new Acutherm sub-brand for the trailer manufacturer aims to improve thermal efficiency and management for hot and cold applications. With superior heat capacity and structural integrity, temperature states can be maintained regardless of application or environmental conditions.

The product line currently consists of Wabash Acutherm refrigerated box trailers with EcoNex technology, Acutherm refrigerated delivery boxes, Acutherm refrigerated delivery boxes with EcoNex technology, Acutherm sanitary tank trailers and Acutherm refrigerated box inserts. The company plans to add more thermal solutions under the Acutherm sub-brand in the future.

The company’s EcoNex technology takes temperature maintenance performance to the next level, the company said, delivering superior durability benefits for trailers and bodies equipped with it. They are lighter without sacrificing structural integrity, making ideal replacements for thermal products constructed with traditional materials such as steel, aluminum and wood, the company added.

Wabash Acutherm debut follows company debut expansion of EcoNex Technology production at its Little Falls, Minnesota plant earlier this month, which includes a $20 million investment and more than 200 new jobs by the end of 2023.

Norman D. Briggs