(KSNF) — Big changes are on the way for one of the area’s largest industries, trucking.

As new drivers face new regulations before getting their CDL.

Before any of us heard of COVID-19, the trucking industry was short on drivers, in large part because so many of them were reaching retirement age.

Then the pandemic hit and has made matters even worse. Soon there will be a new hoop for new truck drivers to jump through.

“I think the intent is to improve safety and make drivers better prepared, new drivers prepared to enter the industry, so yeah, I think it’s absolutely a step in the right direction,” said Darrin Pfeifly, Crowder College Transport Training Director.

Pfeifly says he agrees with a new federal mandate going into effect on February 7th.

It calls for all new drivers seeking a CDL or Commercial Driver’s License, to complete an approved entry level driver training program. If anything, he says additional training is long overdue.

“I believe it was 1976 when Congress mandated some entry level driver training rules and so here we are some 40 years later finally getting some rules.”

It takes up to five weeks for students to complete the driver training program at Crowder. But Pfeifly says it won’t lead to any delay for Crowder students, because it’s been part of the curriculum for a couple of years anyway.

“Well it was set to go into effect in 2018, which it did, and compliance was to be February of 2020. That date was rolled back to 2022 which is fast approaching and that is the compliance date where you have to meet all of the requirements of the new rule.”

In addition to truck drivers, the rule also affects school bus drivers as well, because they must also have a CDL.

The rule doesn’t apply to people who received their license before February 7th.