Truck Driver Training Law Could Help or Hurt Carrier Industry

April 25, 2022, 4:23 p.m. ·

A white semi drives down the highway past an ethanol plant in the background.
Brad Bell, President of Roadmaster Driver's School, hopes increasing safety, benefits, and pay will encourage more people to become truck drivers. (Photo by Grant Gerlock, Nebraska Public Media News/Harvest Public Media)

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Truck driver training schools operate under a new federal law that went into effect this year. The law is aimed at safety, but could also have a negative impact.

Roadmaster Drivers School, owned by Werner Trucking based in Omaha, started a training course in Nebraska’s largest city this year. It becomes one of ten certified programs in the state.

The school offers a four-week course required by federal law, called Entry-Level Driver Training, or ELDT.

The Omaha program continues to hire instructors and hopes to graduate 500 students per year as it grows.

Brad Bell is the president of the Roadmaster program based in St. Petersburg, Florida. He said the course increases safety by eliminating a fast way to receiving a commercial driver’s license (CDL).

“I just think it brings some schools up to par that needed to improve,” Bell said. “The bottom line is those schools were not producing safe, professional truck drivers. It was just an easy way for somebody to go get a CDL license. I don't think any of us want somebody that is not properly trained to be on the road with our families.”

Bell said interested semi-drivers can no longer take a short, week-long program to get certified.

But that means increased cost to enter the workforce, for a carrier industry in dire need of workers.

In 2021, the trucking industry saw an 80,000-person shortage of truck drivers in the United States. On this trajectory, the American Trucking Association estimates the number would double in eight years.

However, Bell believes improved safety of semis, added time at home for workers, and increased pay - will relieve driver shortages and supply chain issues across the nation.