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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