NEW CASTLE, Pa. (WKBN) – Starting in February, those wanting a commercial driver’s license, or CDL, are going to see some big changes.
“Anybody wanting to get a CDL license will have to go to a certified truck-driving school, so many hours behind the wheel, training, plus the classroom time,” said Frank Speziale, of New Castle School of Trades.
Right now, the rules are much more relaxed. Just about anyone with an existing CDL can train someone else.
“What’s happened is, a guy could go out with his brother, and he could train in the truck. He could teach him everything he needs to know,” said Mark Guthrie, of New Castle School of Trades.
Instructors with the New Castle School of Trades say the federal changes were approved two years ago, giving schools and drivers alike time to prepare. There has been some procrastination, however.
“I’m seeing an increase in people calling, wanting to get this done before that deadline,” said Paul Schulze.
Over the years, trucking companies would offer their drivers in-house training and then come to the New Castle School of Trades for the necessary testing. But with the new regulations coming in February, even those in-house instructors will need federal certification.
The changes will also affect school districts where bus drivers are already in short supply. New hires and instructors will need to undergo training.
“And depending on the schools, like in our school, it’s around $6,000 to get a CDL, and some schools are higher,” said Guthrie.
“It’s really gonna be a hardship,” Schulze said.
Compounding matters is a declining number of truck-driving schools across the country — Ohio has only 10 left. Even schools like this can handle only so much of the demand.
“If we had 100 guys come in here at one time, we couldn’t possibly do it. We don’t have the manpower to do that,” Guthrie said.
It’s a problem that may get even worse in the months ahead.