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UPS seeks exemption for training on double trailers

Exemption would apply to approximately 1,000 UPS driver trainees per year. Credit: Jim Allen/FreightWaves

UPS claims that its “hire from within culture” is clashing with federal driver training regulations so the package delivery giant is pleading its case – once again – to regulators.

In a letter sent in January 2019 to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, UPS [NSYE: UPS] asked for a renewable five-year exemption so that the company can provide behind-the-wheel, on-road skills training to commercial learner’s permit (CLP) holders pulling twin 28-foot trailers (doubles) during their initial training.

The exemption, which would affect approximately 1,000 driver trainees per year, would allow UPS to work around current federal regulations that prohibits drivers from operating a commercial vehicle if the driver does not have a CLP or commercial driver’s license (CDL) with the proper class or endorsements. Current regulations do not permit a double/triple trailers endorsement on CLPs.

UPS pointed out that current regulations require drivers to wait at least 14 days after getting a CLP before being allowed to take the CDL skills test, but the waiting period can take much longer depending on the state. “Weeks can pass between the time a driver receives his or her primary training and the time the driver is able to obtain on the road training or experience in doubles,” UPS asserted.

The company also said that its trainees, after completing formal training, continue to improve their skills by operating UPS vehicles while being supervised by certified instructors until they are able to obtain CDLs themselves. Under current regulations, “this additional experience can only be gained on single trailers, even though doubles are integral to UPS’s day-to-day business,” UPS stated. “This situation is very inefficient, extends and breaks up training time and creates a strain on UPS’s network and operations.”

In addition, because the company uses both conventional and double trailers in its 20,000-vehicle long-haul fleet, and requires all of its approximately 26,000 long-haul drivers to be qualified to operate doubles, the exemption “will ultimately make for a smoother and safer transition to tractor trailer driving for those UPS associates who express an interest in being promoted to such a role,” UPS maintained.

The exemption request comes a year after UPS sought another five-year exemption from regulators related to driver training. UPS contended that provisions within the now-delayed Entry Level Driver Training rule would limit its ability to meet new driver demand as well as impose other administrative burdens on the company. The company failed to show that it would maintain sufficient safety levels, according to the FMCSA, which subsequently denied the request in December.

To help “stave off” safety concerns that the FMCSA or the general public might have in the current exemption request, UPS proposed including the following terms:

  • Each driver with a CLP will receive a minimum of 80 hours of training.
  • Drivers must successfully pass a UPS written knowledge test similar to one that would be administered by the state to obtain a doubles/triples endorsement before beginning on-road skills training in doubles. 
  • Doubles skills training for drivers with CLPs will be provided in limited operating areas.
  • During all phases of behind the wheel training (i.e., road and range) driver trainees will have direct supervision (i.e., a certified instructor).
  • UPS will maintain a “Satisfactory” safety rating.

The FMCSA is issuing a 30-day comment period on UPS’s request to begin after the petition is published in the Federal Register, which is scheduled for Feb. 25.


  1. Al Whalen

    It would be a good idea to deny this request as I believe new CDL drivers need time to master the skills of hauling one trailer before they get into working with two. With the number of routes UPS has I think it would just be a scheduling matter to assign the greenhorns to single trailer runs. Negotiate with their union if it’s a seniority thing for those routes.

  2. Jimmie

    UPS needs to retrain their current CDL holders in the swaying, left lane crawling, bottlenecking, idiots that have already trained to pull doubles & NO new hires should not be learning to pull doubles while in training… same as under 21 should never be considered for driving CDL vehicles.

  3. Mike

    Ups will not have an honest written test for the package car or hub workers as they say they will give them the answers to copy off of as they do now but if you come from off the street it’s a different game

  4. Jim

    I work at ups also and I won’t help package car drivers learn how to operate big trucks either
    They come over and dovetail into seniority and take our jobs
    Street hire can never climb the ladder

  5. Thomas

    Pat” so you’re @ UPS just for the money. So you stood and watched a new driver struggle for 35 minutes without trying to help the young driver? I forgot you’re there just for the money? What if this young driver hooked the set up completely wrong went out on the road and had a major accident knowing you could have been a help to this driver to prevent an accident. That’s right you’re just there for the MONEY and your retirement package.

    1. Mike

      Thomas that is exactly what this story is about, company training. Pat is not doing his job if he is doing someone else’s and you should know he could be fired for stealing time for helping. Now if you work for ups tell me I’m wrong

    2. Stephen

      I had 2 bad experiences with 17 years ago when a ups delivery van bike down after hitting a deer in the middle of no where I let the driver use my cell truck phone he ended up making 2 calls and received 3 calls. I made a photo copy of those calls on my bill of $17.18 they never paid for those calls despite me writing 2 letters. The second experience was 5 and half years ago a U PS tractor pulling 2 trailers hit the drivers side of my tractor with the back trailer I couldn’t get out of the because of a car that spun out in the heavy snow and ended up on the shoulder 7168604681

  6. Pat

    I currently work for UPS.. UPS’s training program is 2 weeks total 1-week classroom and 1-week yard / road with a safety mentor…wtf
    The classroom work is with a woman at our facility that has never even been inside of a big truck for God’s sake..
    I started my UPS employment late in my career, I’ve been Trucking 33 years and I can tell you that these so-called trainees that UPS brings out of the warehouse are poorly trained they should not be allowed on the road…..
    They cannot back up they look through the back glass to back a dolly to a rear pup they’re totally clueless… UPS has piss poor training / the worst training of any company I have ever seen the federal government needs to step in and stop the b******* and make them hire professional drivers like they did in the late 80s and early 90s…
    I watched a kid the other night try for 35 minutes to hook up a set of joints (doubles) they are just totally clueless… UPS may be able to get a package Halfway Around the World overnight but they cannot take a kid off the street that’s been slinging packages inside a f****** building and make a professional truck driver out of them in two weeks and UPS says they have a 10 week or 20 week or some b******* training program my ass the feds need to look at this s*** seriously…
    I hope someone at Freightwaves reads my comments and contacts me..
    The safety of our families depend on someone stopping this stupid bulshit at least make these stupid package slingers go to a f****** truck driving school or something anything is better than UPS doing nothing…
    I hope someone understands..
    This is the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen in my life the only reason I’m at UPS is for the friggin money at the end of this contract that’ll be $40 an hour and I want to get out of this Trucking b******* so bad…

  7. Bill

    A ups driver pulling doubles was passing and came over before clearing my rig and forced me on the shoulder.these are not the experienced and professional ups we are use to.

    1. Ken

      Again. Absolutely! All they care about is seniority. Not skill. They will take a package car driver, let them get their cdl. Not even know how to back up…5 days training, and off on their own.

      1. Andy

        This is false, UPS trains their drivers a minimum of 2 weeks if they do not already currently hold their CDL. Sometimes 3 weeks if the trainer deems it necessary. UPS strives for safety, but just like with any company, they get some bad apples. Some people, no matter how well they are trained, will always revert back to their lazy ways.

  8. Timothy

    Sounds like ups just wants to make there own rules all rules should apply to all drivers i guess money talks if they get this change. Rules are rules follow them like everyone else has to.

Comments are closed.

John Gallagher

Based in Washington, D.C., John specializes in regulation and legislation affecting all sectors of freight transportation. He has covered rail, trucking and maritime issues since 1993 for a variety of publications based in the U.S. and the U.K. John began business reporting in 1993 at Broadcasting & Cable Magazine. He graduated from Florida State University majoring in English and business.