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White House laying foundation for ‘next-generation trucking workforce’

Truck driver action plan includes $30 million to expedite CDLs

The White House unveiled on Thursday a sweeping initiative aimed at shoring up the ranks of the nation’s truck drivers that could potentially lead to boosting driver pay.

The Biden-Harris Administration Trucking Action Plan, to be led by the U.S. Departments of Transportation and Labor, is being launched in the wake of trucking industry challenges exacerbated by the pandemic that include high driver turnover rates, an aging workforce, long hours away from home, and time spent waiting to load and unload — often unpaid — at congested ports, warehouses and distribution centers, according to the White House.

“These actions will support the ongoing economic recovery and lay the foundation for a next-generation trucking workforce that will strengthen U.S. competitiveness and support millions of good driving jobs for years to come,” the White House noted.

At the top of the list of initiatives is a plan by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to provide over $30 million to help states speed the issuance of CDLs.

“Today, FMCSA is sending all 50 states a toolkit detailing specific actions they can take to expedite licensing and will work hand in hand with states to address challenges they are facing,” the White House stated. “FMCSA will also begin closely tracking delays, identifying states that have challenges with issuing CDLs and communicating with all 50 governors about ways they can reduce delays in issuing CDLs.”

Within the next 30 days, FMCSA and DOL will begin an in-depth study of driver compensation to examine truck driver pay, including the time drivers spend waiting to pick up or drop off freight without getting paid, a study that was included as part of the bipartisan infrastructure package that Biden signed into law in November.

The Biden-Harris initiative also includes a major driver recruitment effort, launching a 90-day Apprenticeship Trucking Challenge to be overseen by DOT and DOL and supported by $8 million in funding from DOL. The two departments will be hosting a series of national “Apprenticeship Accelerator” meetings to help carriers develop programs and release a quick-start toolkit for apprenticeships in the trucking sector.

The White House announced that so far EVO Trucking, D.M. Bowman, Yellow Corp., Florida Rock and Tank, Total Transportation, CRST and Albertsons have committed to work with the administration to launch and expand the program. “We are going to work with the Trucking Alliance and the American Trucking Associations, who will help engage their members on the value of a registered apprenticeship to support quality, safety and retention,” the White House stated.


Watch: Driver training during driver shortage (11/2/21)


In addition, a DOL-funded national apprenticeship called FASTPORT focusing on the transportation sector will work with trucking companies, unions and industry associations to establish “registered apprenticeship” programs in as little as 48 hours.

Within the next 60 to 90 days, the action plan also includes: 

  • An FMCSA pilot program for drivers ages 18-21 as mandated by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, incorporating registered apprenticeships to ensure rigorous training standards and pairing each young driver with an experienced mentor.
  • Roundtable discussions hosted by DOT and DOL to discuss efforts to help transitioning service members and veterans obtain CDLs. 
  • A task force launched by DOT and DOL aimed at promoting, recruiting and advancing women in trucking, as established in the infrastructure law. “This task force will be the first of many strategies to help build the pipeline and diversify the trucking workforce,” the White House stated.
  • A task force to investigate predatory truck leasing arrangements that dissuade drivers from entering or staying in the industry.

 Click for more FreightWaves articles by John Gallagher.

The FREIGHTWAVES TOP 500 For-Hire Carriers list includes Yellow Corp. (No. 5), CRST (No. 20) and D.M. Bowman (No. 236).

38 Comments

  1. The main problem Trucking has is OVER REGULATION, The government has been making it so hard for companies and drivers with new laws, taxes rules, fees etc. etc. It never ses to end, some entity has their hand in our pockets everyday, wanting more and more money, while ignoring the fact that operation costs often exceed revenue generated!
    The next problem is training, we have mega carriers with in house “Schools” that poorly prepare drivers before sending them out with “driver trainers” that have as little as 3- 6 months experience themselves, I sit and watch drivers in various locations that can’t back up 10 feet without jackknifing the trailer! We have rookies training rookies, what could possibly go wrong!
    I’ve been a professional driver since 1973 and I can attest to the fact that the industry is at its lowest point across the board. I watch drivers, driving recklessly through traffic cutting off other vehicles, speeding, talking on cell phones while doing 40- 50 mph in fast lane, totally oblivious to their surroundings!!! TRAINING !TRAINING! TRAINING!

  2. Hourly pay is required with E logs
    Covid is a problem in homeless shelters in Windsor and Toronto from sick truck drivers using homeless shelters as a home base
    Many sick or disabled truck drivers including myself live in a homeless shelter between loads and go to the hospital each week. Hourly pay and overtime better solution than e logs.

  3. Big mistake on the 18-21 I’ve got 42 years experience and well over 1,000,000 miles ,no way that age group should be doing this ,

    1. Why not? I started at 15 hauling grain to the silos, worked my way up at 19 running intrastate until 21 then went over the road. Now at 62 still in the industry. There are plenty of young individuals out there wanting to drive, however, without guidance and training, it will never take shape. We need experienced drivers out there to help these young people, instead of sitting back and saying awww this will never work. I’ve been a driver development instructor with my company for 6 years and have put a lot of young prospects on the street, without an accident. It is possible if we all work together, this industry is doomed without it.

  4. How about just getting rid of EPA and Elogs I guarantee plenty of drivers businesses will appreciate it and it will be more efficient and safe studies have shown after eld mandate deadly accidents have increased

    1. All this that they will be trying to do for the trucking industry. How will it affect owner operators and those who work for small owner operator companies I drove for 30 years and have seen nothing work for the small groups. Companies will go broke if they got to pay every single hour a driver is out of his home and in their truck especially the small companies. Those who are having their loads transported manufacturing companies and others will have to pay more. Passing the buck over to consumers. Now it would be nice if they got rid of brokers. And owner operators could go direct to pick up loads

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.