Industry task force brings clarity, flexibility to revised PTDI standards

Sept. 1, 2011
High-level industry professionals representing labor, insurance, motor carriers, and driver training schools recently witnessed the culmination of their

High-level industry professionals representing labor, insurance, motor carriers, and driver training schools recently witnessed the culmination of their four-year process to revise the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI) standards for entry-level drivers and driver training courses. Revisions include ease of use, updated terminology, more flexible standards, and inclusion of advancements in technology.

More than 25 years ago, industry stakeholders began meeting to develop initial standards for entry-level drivers that they deemed necessary to produce a safe, skilled, well-educated driver. As a result, PTDI created skill, curriculum, and certification standards and, since 1989, has been certifying truck driver training courses across the United States and Canada. PTDI is the only certifying body for commercial motor vehicle (CMV) operator education and training in the trucking industry.

“Our goal was to make PTDI course certification a smoother process for the schools that wanted to be certified and also look into what was on the horizon so we could address issues such as distance learning, computer-based training, and other current technology,” said Mark Johnson, chairman of the PTDI Standards Review Task Force formed in 2007.

Another goal, according to Johnson, was to make the certification process clearer. “We wanted to come up with standards that were generic enough to meet everybody's needs, yet specific enough to meet the industry's needs,” said Johnson, who is the director of the Teamsters national training, International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

Contributing the insurance industry's perspective, task force member Dave Money, CDS, CDT, technical director of transportation, Liberty Mutual Insurance, said, “If revising the standards makes a better driver, then that's great. Our primary interest is risk reduction, so the better the individual we can get behind the wheel, the more that reduces risks in the long run. That's what we're really looking for, and that's why we as an insurance carrier contribute time to this effort.”

“For me, the most important aspect of these changes is clarity,” said Robert McClanahan, director, Central Tech Transportation & Safety Education, a publicly funded driver-training school. “These changes give people a better understanding of what we are asking for. The standards are now more user-friendly, and if people understand what they're reading, they're more willing to look into it. I think these changes will expand the number of PTDI course certifications.”

Besides Johnson, Money, and McClanahan, the task force included Ginny DeRoze, former PTDI director; Don Hess, director, transportation and public safety at John Wood Community College; Jim McKinny, president, Davis Transport Inc; Jeff Davis, vice-president of safety, Motor Transport Underwriters Inc; Terry Burnett, CIC, CRM, president, Burnett Insurance Corp; and James Fairbank, director of education, National Tractor Trailer School.

As the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's Minimum Training Requirements for Entry-Level Commercial Motor Vehicle Operators initiative draws closer to becoming effective, most likely in November 2011, Money said he hopes the government will go to PTDI as the model.

“That would be ideal,” he said, “because as insurance carriers, we have minimum requirements for the transportation industry, and PTDI has the minimum training standards we desire for the driver we put on the road.”

The revised standards are at