Iowa DOT provides employees with commercial driver training
The safety of our Iowa Department of Transportation employees and everyone who drives in Iowa relies on the consistent and thorough training of our team. In an Iowa DOT garage, the team members are called on to do a wide variety of tasks. They plow snow, repair shoulders, remove brush to improve sightlines, and repair signs and guard rail, which are a few of the many safety assignments they accomplish every day. One thing most of these tasks have in common is the need for our team members to drive very large equipment.
To safely operate the trucks, loaders, blowers, and other large equipment, each highway technician must get and maintain a commercial driver’s license. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration recently updated the rules related to educational requirements prior to getting a commercial driver’s license. These requirements include extensive coursework to improve the knowledge base and safety of those applying to drive a commercial vehicle. These courses are offered by many large trucking companies and through community colleges, but Iowa DOT staff determined that we needed to become a registered training provider to attract and maintain the best candidates for garage positions.
Jason Fisher, the statewide maintenance training coordinator, said, “Taking this federal training through a community college is expensive and time-consuming. By offering the federal training program as an 'on the job' program, is a great benefit to our new employees in that they don’t have to pay thousands of dollars to get certified for a commercial driver’s license. They actually get paid to get the training. The benefit for the Iowa DOT is that we’re able to assess their skills and assist in providing additional guidance from the very beginning of their training.”
To fulfill the federal requirement, staff in the Maintenance Bureau developed a federally approved training program and the Iowa DOT became a registered training provider. Fisher worked with each district garage operations assistant to develop both the hands-on and classroom portions of the training.
Fisher said, “In developing the theory or classroom elements, I was also able to work with Julie Johnson and Angie Pinegar from the Motor Vehicle Division. They are experts at developing training systems and were instrumental in getting our program going. The theory/classroom training is now available to employees through Iowa DOTU. It’s a platform that our employees are familiar with as they complete many other required courses.”
For the behind-the-wheel training, Fisher created a series of exercises to train and evaluate our employees. Some of the movements include pre-trip inspection, backing and docking, and general operation of the vehicle.
Fisher said, “We reached out to the district maintenance managers to develop a list of current garage employees who could serve as trainers for our newer employees going through the commercial driver’s license training. We are grateful to have one trainer in every circle who will work to get our new employees safely licensed.”
The training is an innovative way our staff developed to save time and money and attract the best talent in this competitive job market. It serves as a great example of how our employees are living our core values of “safety first” and “people matter.”
To find a list of current job openings and sign up to get an email when new positions are posted, go to https://iowadot.gov/careers.