ALEXANDRIA, Va. – The Commercial Vehicle Training Association and a coalition of 20 transportation-industry groups are urging congressional leaders to support a bill that would reduce delays faced by applicants seeking commercial driver’s licenses.
In a letter sent to House Speaker Paul Ryan and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, CVTA President and CEO Don Lefeve said delays in getting appointments to take the CDL skills test “are preventing individuals from entering the workforce expeditiously at a time when drivers are in short supply.”
Twenty industry trade associations, including the United Motorcoach Association, signed the letter.
Reps. John Duncan, R-Tenn., and Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., introduced the bipartisan bill, H.R.4719.
“Trucking, motorcoach, and school bus industries are all facing severe driver shortage issues,” the letter states. “As a coalition of trade associations and employers concerned with America’s growing commercial vehicle driver shortage, we urge you to sponsor and support H.R.4719.”
Here is the full letter:
Dear Speaker Ryan and Leader Pelosi:
As a coalition of trade associations and employers concerned with America’s growing commercial vehicle driver shortage, we urge you to sponsor and support H.R.4719.
Congressmen John Duncan, R-Tenn., and Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., introduced this bipartisan legislation to reduce delays faced by applicants seeking a commercial driver’s license (CDL).
These delays, commonly referred to as “skills test delays,” are experienced by CDL applicants seeking an appointment for the CDL skills exam where they must demonstrate their ability to drive a truck or bus.
Since a CDL is required for an individual to begin working as a commercial motor vehicle operator, these delays are preventing individuals from entering the workforce expeditiously at a time when drivers are in short supply.
Trucking, motorcoach, and school bus industries are all facing severe driver shortage issues. The trucking industry is experiencing a tremendous driver shortage expected to have reached 50,000 by the end of 2017 and could grow to more than 174,000 by 2026 on its current trajectory.
Eighty-five percent of motorcoach companies report that they have difficulty recruiting drivers. Private school bus operators report the difficulty in finding drivers as their number one concern.
Contributing to this problem is the significant delays in many states to completing CDL testing. According to the GAO, CDL applicants in 15 states face delays of two weeks or more from the time they are eligible to test until the test is actually taken.
This is the result of the inability of states to keep up with demand for CDLs due to the lack of examiners, testing facilities, and other resources necessary for an efficient testing process. CDL applicants suffer significant consequences because they are being delayed from earning income since they cannot begin work without a CDL.
Many CDL applicants are not in a financial position to wait extended periods of time to take a licensing exam upon which their careers depend. Our companies also depend on acquiring and retaining top driving talent to safely keep up with Americans’ demand for goods and services, as well as their personal transportation needs.
While Section 5506 of the FAST Act addresses the skills testing delays issue through annual disclosure of the length of skills test delays, we support H.R.4719 because it requires states to provide testing within seven days.
Currently, states are not held accountable when they fail to provide CDL skills tests to eligible applicants within a reasonable time. Consequently, these states are unnecessarily delaying CDL applicants from testing, securing their CDL, entering the workforce, and moving America’s economy forward.
Given the current capacity crunch and projected driver shortage, these delays are unacceptable because individual states are impacting the very people who move interstate commerce. H.R.4719 takes the following steps to ensure efficiency in the CDL skills testing process by:
- Establishing a standard definition of a skills test delay. The legislation defines a test delay as the span of time between when a CDL applicant is certified by his/her training provider (successfully completed training) and the date that the CDL exam is scheduled. This allows a fair, accurate, and consistent measurement across all states to determine delay times.
- Reducing the burden of reporting delays. This bill requires state motor vehicle databases to keep track of skills test delay times, thereby relieving the burden of motor vehicle employees to track the data manually. As a result, states and the FMCSA will be able to more easily determine the current wait for CDLs by testing location.
- Increasing reporting requirements to accurately identify problem states. Under the bill, states will be required to submit quarterly reports on skills test delays. All states will be subject to the reporting requirement. However, states that do not allow public and private schools, or independent test centers to conduct CDL skills exams will be subject to enforcement action if they fail to limit skills test delays to seven days because it is these states that have been identified as states with the worst delays in the country.
- Empowering FMCSA to hold states accountable. States that refuse to reduce their wait times to seven days will have up to 4 percent of their highway funds withheld by the Department of Transportation. In order for this enforcement action to be triggered, a state must have reported delays exceeding seven days at three or more state-run testing locations within two consecutive quarters in a year or three quarters within an 18-month period. States not in compliance will have an additional 270 days to develop an action plan to reduce delays to seven days or less before highway funds are withheld. Withheld funds will be released to the state immediately upon compliance. States have ample time to comply.
H.R.4719 is needed to ensure that states are not unnecessarily delaying applicants from taking their CDL exams. The legislation defers to the state on how best to accomplish this goal and holds them accountable for their failure to ensure reasonable wait times.
Commercial motor vehicle operators are a necessary component of interstate commerce. The trucks hauling the goods and services on which the American people depend, and the buses that safely bring our family and friends to work, school, and home cannot move without qualified drivers with a CDL. This legislation recognizes their importance and seeks greater efficiency. Therefore, we urge you to co-sponsor this legislation.
Thank you for your consideration.
President & Chief Executive Officer
Commercial Vehicle Training Association (CVTA) on behalf of:
American Bus Association
California Bus Association
California Trucking Association
Customized Logistics and Delivery Association
Georgia Motorcoach Operators Association
Greater New Jersey Motorcoach Association
International Foodservice Distributors Association (IFDA)
Kentucky Trucking Association
National Association of Publicly Funded Truck Driving Schools (NAPFTDS)
National Ready Mix Concrete Association (NRMCA)
National School Transportation Association (NSTA)
New York School Bus Contractors Association
Northwest Motorcoach Association
Oklahoma Trucking Association
Pennsylvania School Bus Association
Truckload Carriers Association (TCA)
Tennessee Trucking Association
Texas Trucking Association
United Motorcoach Association (UMA)
Virginia Motorcoach Association