Advocacy takes many forms.
The Commercial Vehicle Training Association (CVTA) is the nation’s largest representative of commercial truck driver training programs. As its website notes:
“CVTA members represent nearly 200 training providers in 42 states and collectively train over 50,000 commercial drivers annually. . .CVTA advocates for policies that enhance safety through commercial driver training, reduce barriers for those seeking entry into the trucking and bus industries, and further advance overall driver professionalism.”
Our emphasis here is on “reduce barriers for those seeking entry.” And that informs part of why the CVTA is urging Congress to pass an infrastructure bill now.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting shutdown of state economies has no doubt had a rippling, good-news/bad-news effect. The good news: fewer coronavirus infections. The bad news: crippled economies.
If the trucking industry has remained an essential business through this pandemic, then the reasoning here, from CVTA and others, is that driver training needs to also be considered an essential business. So, why the urgency, and why did CVTA write letters to Congressional leaders and the governors of Maryland and New York?
As CVTA president Don Lefeve told Transportation Today, “An infrastructure bill makes complete sense, but one major concern we have is 17 states DMVs remain closed, and the other states are only producing limited amounts of commercial drivers as a nation. As the economy rebounds, and assuming an infrastructure bill is completed, this creates a perfect storm where we will need more commercial drivers. We aren’t producing any drivers in roughly one-third of all states. This means that tens of thousands of new truck drivers cannot obtain their Commercial Learner’s Permits (CLP) or their Commercial Driver’s Licenses (CDLs).”
There are no easy answers. Personal safety and economic recovery make for a tough pairing. One informs the other, and it seems that one often contradicts the other. That said, without a learner’s permit, a prospect can’t start training, further delaying his or her entry into availability as a qualified carrier.
Scale that with CVTA’s estimated loss of 50,000 prospective and certified driver certificates these past three months due to the pandemic, and we begin to see the importance of that training.