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How the nation's largest state seeks to solve the driver shortage

12/15/2021

The state of California is making it more convenient for residents to obtain their CDLs.

While it may be second to Alaska in land area, California is the United States' single largest state. With 39 million people residing there, the Golden State just may be best positioned to fill the gaping professional truck driver hole caused by a variety of factors. Based on the recent actions of the California Division of Motor Vehicles, officials are optimizing and expanding government resources to get more people off the sidelines and on the road, with their newly acquired CDLs in tow.

As reported by FreightWaves, the California DMV recently announced that it will remain open for longer on the weekends in order to administer more commercial driving tests. Additionally, the DMV authority said it plans on repositioning some of its CDL examiners down to Southern California, where there is higher volume of drivers as well as job opportunities, given the severe backlogs in containers at the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles.

Steve Gordon, who serves as director for the California DMV, noted that these actions are designed to make the CDL licensing process as seamless as possible, while at the same time diminishing port logjams.

"There is a real need to increase the number of safe truck drivers in California to transport goods," Gordon explained, according to FreightWaves. "Our goal is to give everyone who needs to take a test for a commercial driver's license the opportunity to be tested within 30 days if they meet the requirements."

Gordon further stated that once these plans are put into place, would-be CDL drivers should be able to lock in when they'll take their test within a week of submitting their request.

There are many working parts to supply chain performance, whether at the ports or in warehouse management processes. But central to container diminishment at shipping ports is truck driver availability. They're the ones who ultimately move delivered freight, meaning imports, to their intended destinations.

FMC suspending certain traffic mitigation fees
While motor carriers are going to various lengths to enhance recruitment and retention, so too are certain supply chain stakeholders. For example, the Federal Maritime Commission recently announced that it will waive traffic mitigation on the weekends and non-peak hours, meaning any time that is before 7 a.m. and after 6 p.m. from Monday to Friday. The purpose is to encourage users to spread out when they're loading and unloading, since the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week until further notice.

As noted by Supply Chain Dive, the Biden administration encouraged the Federal Maritime Commission to take these measures, but the agency's commissioner isn't convinced it will make much of a difference if other stakeholders don't step up and offer their own solutions.

"For a 24/7 or off-peak gate hours program to be successful, it means that all supply chain partners need to be rowing in the same direction," said FMC Commissioner Carl Bentzel.

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