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September 22, 2020 12:15 PM, EDT

UPS Wants FMCSA to Reconsider Exemption Request

Fleet Seeks Relief From Driving Instructor Requirements
UPS driver in maskLuke Sharrett/Bloomberg News

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UPS Inc. has requested reconsideration of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s denial of its 2019 request for an exemption from a requirement that its driver training instructors have two years’ minimum experience as trainers, FMCSA announced Sept. 22.

The nation’s largest fleet, UPS said that the exemption is necessary to ensure it can continue to exceed current requirements and provide proper training of its drivers and improve highway and public safety.

“UPS believes that its current process of preparing driver trainers exceeds any skill set gained merely by operating a tractor-trailer for two years,” the carrier said. “The company also believes that a two-year experience requirement doesn’t automatically equate to success as a commercial motor vehicle driver trainer.”

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On Dec. 9, FMCSA denied the Atlanta-based parcel delivery company’s earlier exemption request because it said the application did not provide an analysis of the safety impacts the requested exemption may cause. Also, according to the agency, the request did not explain how the exemptions likely would achieve a level of safety equivalent to, or greater than, the level that would be achieved by complying with the current entry-level driver training rule.

But in its new request, UPS said it has provided the agency with updated information since the original denial, illustrating that many of its locations have experienced turnover issues with driver trainers.

FMCSA said it would accept comments on the UPS request for 30 days after it is published in the Federal Register, expected to be posted Sept. 23.

UPS-FMCSA by Transport Topics on Scribd

“UPS stated that it has had to hire 100 candidates to attempt to net the 50 trainer positions necessary across the U.S.,” the FMCSA announcement said. “Of the 100 hired, UPS has been able to retain only 38 trainers for the reasons explained in the request for reconsideration.”

In its earlier exemption request, UPS said its schools have trained hundreds of driving instructors, many who did not have previous commercial driver license experience.

“UPS driver training school instructors have, on average, 20 years of UPS experience, hold a CDL of the same or higher class and all the endorsements necessary to operate a CMV for which training is required,” according to the 2019 Federal Register announcement. “Additionally, all UPS driver instructors are required to be recertified every 90 days to demonstrate the same skill level shown for their original driver training school certification. UPS further performs internal quality assessments to validate that instructor skill sets are maintained throughout the organization.”

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FMCSA said for the previous UPS request the agency received 112 comments, including 58 in support and 51 in opposition. Three commenters had no position and provided no substantive comments, the agency said.

UPS’ 2019 request also said the exemption was needed to meet union contractual requirements. Under its collective bargaining agreement with the Teamsters union, six current UPS employees must be provided with a promotion opportunity for every new hire.

UPS ranks No. 1 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest for-hire carriers in North America.

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