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DOT Takes Action to Improve Driver Recruitment & Retention
Mariah Barr
6 mins read

In an effort to help America keep on trucking – literally – the Biden Administration passed the Biden-Harris Trucking Action Plan back in December 2021. The Department of Transportation (DOT) is among numerous other authorities, like the Department of Labor (DOL), Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), that are taking steps to improve the process of hiring and keeping commercial drivers on the roadways. 

This is a response to the ongoing driver shortage, which has numerous contributing factors: the outdated infrastructure of the trucking industry, the COVID-19 pandemic, drug testing difficulties and updates, driver pay and time away from home, age demographics and restrictions, and trouble recruiting and retaining female drivers. 

It’s no surprise that these issues add to the challenge of maintaining a robust fleet to keep business moving. The DOT has uncovered that truck driver turnover rates exceed 90% for large, long-haul carriers and 72% for smaller carriers. 

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and the trucking industry won’t be “fixed” right away, either. But the collective efforts of the DOT and other administrations are making steady progress toward a better industry for today’s drivers and the truckers of the future. 

Expediting the Commercial Driver’s Licensing Process 

With the goal of bringing as many truck drivers into the field as possible, the DOT and FMCSA are working together to support state departments of motor vehicles and driver’s licensing offices. They are returning to (and even exceeding) pre-pandemic commercial driver’s license (CDL) issuance rates – a promising occurrence on its own. 

The DOT has been specifically focused on streamlining the CDL process by reducing the delay drivers experience from taking and passing the test to finally receiving their commercial license, which can take upwards of two weeks. It is also looking to provide grants to states to improve IT infrastructure to improve the licensing process. 

The results of these efforts are already coming to light. In the summer of 2021, New York reduced CDL testing delays by 37%. The number of personnel who can administer the road test has increased in California. Texas has expanded office hours and testing capacity, and most of the process has been transitioned online. 

Data from the FMCSA also indicates this plan is paying off. An average of 50,000 CDLs were issued each month in 2021, which is 14% higher than the 2019 monthly average and 60% higher than the 2020 monthly average. 

Creating a Strong & Stable Trucking Workforce 

Under the Trucking Action Plan, the DOT and DOL jointly launched the Driving Good Jobs initiative. The actions under this plan include: 

  • Hosting listening sessions to hear direct feedback from drivers, labor leaders, and industry advocates.  
  • Promoting scalable employer best practices that support improved job quality and driver retention. 
  • Studying the issue of truck driver pay and unpaid detention time as outlined in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.  
  • Pinpointing safe and effective strategies to get new drivers in the field from underrepresented communities, including women and drivers between the ages of 18-20.  
  • Initiating a task force to investigate predatory truck leasing arrangements that discourage drivers from entering or staying in the industry. 

The listening sessions will inform the DOT and DOL on how to deliver a comprehensive plan that outlines any additional actions that can be taken to create and bolster quality trucking jobs. Truckers and their associates will have the opportunity to get on their soapbox and express their specific needs, and the administrations will have a first-hand look (or listen) at what those on the front lines of the industry are experiencing. 

The DRIVE Safe Act is also a major component of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that aims to improve the training and retention of drivers over the long term. We recently covered the bill and the Safe Driver Apprenticeship Pilot Program (SDAP) that was put in place as a result.

Read: How the Drive Safe Act Aims to Curb the Driver Shortage 

In conjunction with the SDAP, the DOL and DOT will host a series of national Apprenticeship Accelerator meetings to support future driver initiatives and develop a helpful toolkit to support apprenticeships in the trucking industry.  

Recruit & Retain Employees the Right Way 

We’ve Cracked the Code on Driver Recruiting- Download Your FREE Guide Today! 

The efforts made by the DOT will hopefully help improve the culture that surrounds being a commercial driver, but carriers need to consider how they can promote better workplace values as well. Plain and simple – now is the time to get your hiring and management strategies aligned with the values of today’s drivers.  

Foley offers a streamlined solution to get drivers in your cabs in a way that’s convenient for both carriers and truckers alike. Our Driver First eApplication is completely mobile friendly and allows applicants to upload all necessary documents, like their CDL and medical certificate, in a snap. You’ll then be able to access all active applications and make smarter hiring decisions from one easy platform. 

You can get a free demo of our recruitment and hiring software by calling our compliance and screening professionals. We’re here to help you employ the best drivers to build a better fleet. 

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