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NMU resumes CDL truck driving program

MARQUETTE — Northern Michigan University’s CDL truck driving program — temporarily halted by the COVID-19 crisis — will resume Monday, July 27, with new safety guidelines and procedures in place. Students who complete the intensive course should be ready to test for a Commercial Driver’s License and begin their careers in five weeks.

The class will be divided into morning and afternoon sessions, with only one student and one instructor per truck. Masks will be worn in the cabs at all times, all touch points will be properly sanitized after use and the trucks will be thoroughly cleaned each night. Instructors and students are also responsible for taking their temperatures each day and monitoring themselves for signs of possible illness.

While the new cohort begins July 27, a few students whose training was interrupted by the pandemic will complete their program the week of July 13.

NMU’s Continuing Education & Workforce Development Department established the CDL truck driving program in 2018 based on high industry demand. Positions pay an average $18 per hour in the Upper Peninsula. The need for such programs is projected to increase over the next decade, fueled largely by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s new entry-level driver training rule.

As of February 2020, the FMCSA has been enforcing comprehensive national training standards for entry-level commercial truck and bus operators seeking to obtain a CDL. The ruling also impacts businesses with unfilled CDL driver needs.

NMU’s curriculum matches federal requirements related to the FMCSA ruling and is taught by certified truck driver education providers.

Grand Rapids-based retailer Meijer supported Northern’s program last year by donating two reconditioned semi-trucks and trailers valued at about $100,000.

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