Trucking industry concerned over new federal CDL regulations

Federal CDL regulation changes causing concern for the trucking industry.
Federal CDL regulation changes causing concern for the trucking industry.(Dakota News Now)
Published: Nov. 30, 2021 at 4:28 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - The trucking industry has been feeling the impact of the nationwide worker shortage for some time. Now, new federal regulations may make it even more difficult to find drivers.

K & J Trucking Inc. President Shelley Koch has been part of her family’s trucking business since she was a little girl. And, for years, K & J Trucking has been able to train some of its own drivers.

Beginning in February, this will no longer be allowed.

“A lot of these folks still come from small communities, where they’ve been exposed to, maybe, driving on a farm or some kind of agriculture commodity, and those folks can no longer come into a smaller truck line, which is what we primarily have in the state of South Dakota, and just come to work for us,” Koch said.

Drivers looking to acquire a CDL will have to earn it through an accredited program, such as those offered at a tech school.

“We’re very much in favor of having schooling for drivers, we’re just not very much in favor of the additional restrictions,” Koch said.

The main concern, that an already thin driver pool may get even smaller.

“We’re all of a sudden now taking people out of the industry that can help move products and goods,” Koch said.

The South Dakota Trucking Association is backing Koch and others in the business.

“This is just one more hurdle for them to get a CDL,” South Dakota Trucking Association Executive Director Christine Erickson said. “You already have to take the class, you already have to take the test, you have to pass that, you have to get the training.”

These programs can cost upwards of $5,000.

“In order to entice folks, I could see a lot of businesses saying we’ll cost-share, but that’s another cost do the business as well, and it’s just a trickle-down,” Erickson said.

The issue doesn’t lie with the new safety standards, but with the timing of implementing them, as the nation is already short 80,000 truckers, according to Erickson.

“Now is not that time to put a bunch of onerous regulation on the industry, when we’re trying to get product from place to place, we’re seeing a bottleneck in the shipping industry and can’t get things out of ports,” Erickson said.

Koch says the issue doesn’t stop with trucking, but this will impact other industries as well, such as bus drivers, snowplow drivers, and garbage service.

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