Legislation would cut red tape at CDL schools for military vets

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Trucking news and briefs for Friday, April 28, 2023:

Legislation would ease entry into trucking for military vets

U.S. Representatives on Thursday helped introduce a bipartisan bill to cut red tape for veterans looking to use their GI benefits to pay for commercial driver’s license (CDL) education programs.

The bipartisan bill is led by U.S. Reps. Chuck Edwards (R-North Carolina) and Chris Pappas (D-New Hampshire). Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Virginia) is an original cosponsor alongside Rep. Eli Crane (R-Arizona). A companion bill is led in the U.S. Senate by U.S. Sens. Deb Fischer (R-Nebraska) and Alex Padilla (D-California).

Right now, if an approved trucking school opens a secondary facility in a new location, existing laws require the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and state regulators to deny the branch’s ability to receive GI benefits for two years.

To shrink this wait time, the Veteran Improvement Commercial Driver License Act would exempt new branches of established commercial driver-training facilities from this statutory waiting period — if the primary training facility has been approved to receive these benefits by the VA and state approving agencies. By clarifying this two-year moratorium statute, the bill would allow veterans more accessibility to nearby CDL schools and lead to high-paying careers in the industry.

Under the legislation, CDL schools must still comply with state and VA rules regarding curriculum standards to ensure no programs are exploiting veterans or offering fraudulent courses.

The bill is endorsed by several nationwide veteran service organizations, labor groups, and trucking industry leaders, including the American Trucking Associations, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Commercial Vehicle Training Association, Nebraska Trucking Association and more. 

“When the brave men and women in our armed forces return home, the last thing they should have to worry about is red tape preventing them from realizing the American dream that they fought to defend,” said Chris Spear, President & CEO, ATA. “Improving veterans’ access to CDL programs will open the door of opportunity to good-paying, in-demand jobs in the trucking industry.”

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Illinois Volvo dealer becomes state’s first EV certified dealer

Volvo Trucks North America announced this week that Gateway Truck & Refrigeration has completed the rigorous training and facility upgrades to become the first Volvo Trucks Certified Electric Vehicle (EV) Dealership in Illinois.

Gateway has been in business for more than 30 years and operates two Volvo Trucks dealership locations in Collinsville, Illinois, and Wright City, Missouri. The Collinsville location is Gateway’s headquarters and was chosen as the first location to certify due its proximity to the St. Louis market. Given the anticipated market demand for battery-electric trucks, Gateway is designing and building a new facility west of St. Louis that will support battery-electric trucks and will be its second Volvo Truck Certified EV Dealership, the company said.

“Battery-electric vehicles are still new to the Class 8 market, and the team at Gateway Truck & Refrigeration strives to be a leader in the shift, especially when our customers look to us to guide them through the purchase, maintenance and operation of a new technology which will make such an impact in their business,” says Zach Wagner, dealer principal, Gateway Truck & Refrigeration.

Gateway has already sold 46 Volvo VNR Electric trucks, with 10 having been delivered to its customer, Quality Custom Distribution (QCD) that have been deployed in QCD’s Southern California fleet operations delivering products to restaurants and coffee shops. QCD’s remaining 35 Volvo VNR Electric trucks will be built and delivered throughout 2023 and 2024. Gateway also worked with customer Artur Express to deploy the first Volvo VNR Electric truck domiciled in the central region with a home base in St. Louis.

The Volvo Trucks Certified EV Dealer network spans 16 states — California, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia — and three Canadian provinces — British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec. Volvo Trucks is on track to certify numerous additional dealer locations in 2023 as it progresses toward its goal of building a robust North American dealer support network for battery-electric trucks, Volvo says.

Averitt associates combine for 10,000+ hours of community service

Averitt Express (CCJ Top 250, No. 26) associates combined to give more than 10,000 hours of community service over the course of 2022 as part of its “Team Up Community Challenge.”

Overall, Averitt employees served 10,433 hours, with 95 facilities across Averitt’s system helping 223 organizations through efforts including clothing, food and toy drives, disaster relief, litter cleanups and blood donations. 

In recognition of those hours, as well as associate milestones and accomplishments, Averitt also made a matching contribution of $750,000 to Averitt Cares for Kids, the company’s employee-giving program. 

“The Team Up Community Challenge is an important tradition for our team, and I’m very proud of how our associates stepped up to make a difference in our communities during 2022,” said Gary Sasser, Averitt’s chairman and chief executive officer. “I’m proud of the commitment our associates have to serving in our communities, and I’m even more excited about the potential we have to make a difference throughout our network in the future.” 

The Team Up Community Challenge is a year-round initiative through which associates at each facility across Averitt’s network are encouraged to participate in various charitable initiatives.