It never seems to be a good time to add more regulations and requirements for the independent retail propane marketer. February is typically the coldest month of the year in many areas of the U.S. lately and with a shortage of employees due to COVID-19 in a position that was already hard to recruit for, February 7 is the date for a new requirement for “Entry Level Driver Training” (ELDT) to take effect. This new Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) mandate will require all new Commercial Driver License (CDL) and Hazards Materials Endorsement (HME) applicants to successfully complete classroom and behind-the-wheel training before the are eligible to sit for state CDL or HME exams.
The National Propane Gas Association (NPGA) and Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) have been collaborating to develop educational materials to satisfy the ELDT mandate. In September of 2021, plans were announced to leverage the NPGA regulatory expertise and PERC’s learning management system to provide the propane industry with access to training resources needed to administer in-house classroom and behind-the-wheel training for CDL and HME applicants. Through PERC’s Learning Center, applicants can learn from interactive online classroom modules and receive in-person training from company staff with behind-the-wheel guidance materials developed by NPGA and PERC. With unlimited free access to these modules, NPGA members can also take advantage of NPGA regulatory experts to answer questions on the new requirements.
NPGA is also introducing its Administrative Compliance Experts (ACE) services. Red tape is always a hassle with training compliance and ACE is designed to assist companies in working with the administrative side of training and compliance. Companies can avoid FMCSA audit and ushers new drivers through the education and training requirements. NPGA describes ACE as a fee-based service less expensive than any third-party training aide or traditional driving school. It allows the 30-plus steps mandated by ELDT to be cut to five simple steps with NPGA guiding you from start to finish. The program can be used by both members and non-members of NPGA, however non-members will pay a higher price. For more information visit npga.org/ACE.
NPGA shared a “test drive” of interactive training modules at the Atlanta Southeastern Convention & International Propane Expo in October. A sample module of the driver training program reviews the importance of not being awake too long. Information from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states that being awake for at least 18 hours has the same effect as having a blood alcohol content of 0.05% (2 drinks). Being awake for at least 24 hours has the same effect as having a blood alcohol content of 0.10%. Common signs of fatigue are difficulty focusing, frequent blinking, rubbing your eyes, yawning repeatedly, daydreaming, trouble remembering, missing exits or signs, drifting, driving too closely, and feeling restless. The only remedy is rest or sleep.
The steps to preventing fatigue include getting 8-9 hours of sleep, preparing your route, avoiding medications that cause drowsiness, consulting a physician, exercising daily, wearing sunglasses, maintaining comfortable temperature, avoiding heavy foods and avoiding excessive caffeine.