As the end of 2021 approaches and the nation prepares to face a new year, there are two major changes on the horizon that impact the trucking industry.
In February 2022, the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMCSA) will update its entry-level driver training rules.
At the same time, mobile carriers plan to begin sunsetting their 3G data networks. In addition to cellphones, this change will impact electronic logging devices (ELDs) and many other mobile devices.
LICENSING AND TRAINING CHANGES
The Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT) rule, which will be implemented Feb. 7, 2022, establishes new minimum training requirements for people who want to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL), upgrade a CDL or obtain a passenger, school bus or hazardous materials endorsement, according to the FMCSA.
Under these new requirements, an entry-level driver must successfully complete a prescribed program of theory and behind-the-wheel instruction. Before taking the knowledge test or the state-administered CDL skills or hazmat endorsement tests, training must be provided by an entity listed on FMCSA’s Training Provider Registry.
In addition, the minimum standards and requirements for CDL schools will be set at a federal level, as opposed to being set by each state.
CDL schools must record and report hours behind the wheel (no federal minimum) to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). Schools must register and self-certify, and they can self-certify instructors. Individual instructors may have to register with the DOT, depending on the state.
Driving instructors will be required to have a minimum of two years driving experience, a clean motor vehicle record and a medical certification to be eligible to teach driving students in the classroom, on the road and private range instruction.
There will also be an increase in curriculum mandates.
DOT requires 31 theory course topics instead of the original four knowledge topics, which will be accompanied by 19 mandated behind-the-wheel skills, that will be tested with vehicle inspection skills at the state department of motor vehicles.
CDL schools must apply to join the new Training Provider Registry.
More information about the requirements is available at tpr.fmcsa.dot.gov.
3G NETWORK SUNSET
Mobile carriers are shutting down their 3G networks to make room for more advanced network services, including 5G. As a result, many older cellphones and other mobile devices will be unable to use data services, according to the FMCSA.
“Once a 3G network is no longer supported, it is highly unlikely that any ELDs that rely on that network will be able to meet the minimum requirements established by the Electronic Logging Device Technical Specifications, including recording all required data elements and transferring ELD output files,” FMCSA officials said.
Any ELD that requires 3G cellular connectivity to perform its functionality will no longer be in compliance with the technical specifications in the ELD rule once the 3G network it relies on is sunsetted. When in an area that does not support 3G, a 3G device will register a malfunction.
The carrier has eight days to get the malfunction resolved, in this case by replacement, unless an extension is granted, the FMCSA news release stated.
The announced sunset dates are listed below. These are dates for completing the shutdowns. Mobile carriers are planning to retire parts of their networks sooner.
- AT&T 3G: Feb. 22, 2022
- Sprint 3G (T-Mobile): March 31, 2022
- Sprint LTE (T-Mobile): June 30, 2022
- T-Mobile 3G: July 1, 2022
- Verizon 3G: Dec. 31, 2022
Many other carriers, such as Cricket, Boost, Straight Talk and several Lifeline mobile service providers, utilize the AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile networks.
The Trucker News Staff produces engaging content for not only TheTrucker.com, but also The Trucker Newspaper, which has been serving the trucking industry for more than 30 years. With a focus on drivers, the Trucker News Staff aims to provide relevant, objective content pertaining to the trucking segment of the transportation industry. The Trucker News Staff is based in Little Rock, Arkansas.