New drivers and instructors preparing for CDL changes next month

Published: Jan. 12, 2022 at 5:14 PM CST
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WILLISTON, N.D. - On Feb. 7, people interested in applying for a commercial driver’s license will need to complete additional federal training prior to their driving test. It’s a big change for the trucking industry, and now businesses and institutions are working to adjust to the new rules.

When it comes to the road, the “big rigs” are the ones who usually determine the flow of traffic, and officials say adding these new standards will make the roads safer for everyone. In northwest North Dakota, companies looking to employ and train new truckers are looking to TrainND Northwest, one of the facilities that meet these standards.

In the Bakken, oilfield companies are in desperate need of CDL drivers. Some are even willing to pay to train people who want to get behind the wheel of a semi.

“Go Wireline offered to send me (to TrainND to get my CDL training). It was an incredible opportunity, and I’ve always wanted to drive truck,” said Conner Jacobson.

For 21-year-old Conner Jacobson, it’s not just about driving the truck. He’s also thinking about his future.

“It’s something I can take with me anywhere. It’s never going to leave me. For a lot of companies, it’s a huge bonus for them when they have a qualified driver,” said Jacobson.

TrainND Northwest has already been teaching those standards as part of their 120-hour course, where they instruct students on the road and through their state-of-the-art semi simulator. I took the course which taught me just how much you have to pay attention to while in one of these behemoths.

Recently, they extended the course from 120 hours to 165 hours, which allows companies to hire these students while meeting their insurance requirements for new drivers.

“Extending this course to the four weeks helps with that but also allows the students to get more time behind the behind the wheel,” said James Ronduen, Quality Control Specialist for TrainND Northwest.

Since these are federally mandated requirements, James Ronduen says TrainND Northwest will be looking for additional financial options to help assist students in being able to take the class

Job Service officials in the region said that CDL drivers are in high demand. The pandemic has led to a nationwide driver shortage and some in the industry argue that adding these new standards will make it even harder.

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