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UPS tries again for entry-level driver training exemption

Company hit by trainer turnover since first attempt was denied by FMCSA

UPS struggling to fill driver instructor positions. (Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

UPS [NSYE: UPS] is taking another swing at a federal exemption from new entry-level driver training (ELDT) regulations as it struggles to fill driver training slots across its network.

The new application, to be published Wednesday in the Federal Register, follows a denial last year by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) of its initial attempt for an exemption of the ELDT regulations. The final ELDT rule is scheduled to go into effect Feb. 7, 2022.

UPS contended in its initial petition that its own well-established training program effectively trains its drivers. However, the company contended that if it were forced to comply with the rule’s specific instructor qualification requirements, it would be unable to use at least 25% of its current certified driver instructors, thereby limiting its ability to meet the demand for new drivers.

The company also asked for a five-year exemption from a requirement that every training location be registered separately under the program’s Training Provider Registry, claiming it would place a “significant administrative burden” on its in-house training if it were required to register as many as 1,800 UPS locations where a new driver could be trained.

FMCSA ruled, however, that UPS had not demonstrated it would likely achieve a level of safety equivalent to or greater than the level that would be achieved absent the requested exemptions.

It explained that requiring a driver training instructor to hold a commercial driver’s license and have either two years of experience driving a truck of the same or higher class, or two years’ experience as a behind-the-wheel instructor, is necessary to establish minimum qualification standards.

In its updated exemption request filed in July, UPS again asserted that its current process of preparing driver trainers “exceeds any skill set gained merely by operating a tractor-trailer for two years,” according to the FMCSA. “The company also believes that a two-year experience requirement doesn’t automatically equate to success as a [commercial motor vehicle] driver trainer.”

In addition, UPS submitted updated information on issues with filling driver-training positions since its original exemption request, according to FMCSA. “UPS stated that it has had to hire 100 candidates to attempt to net the 50 trainer positions necessary across the U.S. Of the 100 hired, UPS has been able to retain only 38 trainers.”

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  1. Desiree Rosas

    Any certified trainer from UPS will tell you that our training is better than either two years of experience driving a truck of the same or higher class, or two years’ experience as a behind-the-wheel instructor.

  2. Jason C

    As stated in the article only 38 of the 100 candidates succeeded in qualifying as a certified trainer. Why do you think that is? It’s because the training is like no other in the industry and a better value with equal or more experience than you’ll get holding a CDL for two years. UPS’s safety culture is highly regarded and the results are attributed to the current training program in place. The right choice to allow UPS this exemption.

  3. Steve

    Treat the drivers trainers fair and pay union wages and the shortage will disappear
    In Ontario Canada the O T A is saying that their members can not afford twice the minimum wage plus over time and medical. U P S needs to look at pay and treatment for driver trainers and how long it takes for new truck drivers to make 24.00 U S per hour and put A C in all trucks in the U S and Mexico.

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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.