CDL instructor: Regulate big-rig driving through mountains

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DENVER (KDVR) — Every state has its own process in issuing commercial driver’s licenses. One commercial driver’s license instructor told FOX31 that might be part of the problem for drivers who travel to states with geographies different from their own.

Driving an 18-wheeler in the mountains can be a daunting task for even an experienced driver.

“I believe it should be trained everywhere, absolutely,” Jason Emery, an instructor at Excel Driver Services, said.

Getting into a dangerous situation on a steep route can be stressful for any driver. This was the case for Rogel Aguilera-Mederos, who caused a crash in April of 2019 that killed four and injured 10 others.

“It causes them to lock, causes them to panic. A whole list of things can happen to that driver once that starts happening,” Emery said.

It’s for that reason Emery believes driving a big rig in the mountains should be regulated.

“There should be a certification,” Emery said. He maintains that a driver needs certification to carry certain materials and cargo.

He said he supports changing the requirements to acquire a commercial driver’s license. A CDL is a federal license administered by the state.

The process to acquire a CDL should be one that abides by broader rules, according to Emery.

“That endorsement, if it were to change, would need to at a federal level, wherein every state would have to comply,” Emery said.

That process, he said, would train drivers from any state and any physical geography to have to learn how to drive somewhere other than what they’re familiar with.

“If you’re coming off the mountain and it feels a little bit boring, you’re doing it right,” Emery said.

It would take some time before CDL training could go from a state-by-state course to a full-on federal course.

Emery said, for the moment, one proactive way to prepare drivers for any kind of geography, including mountainous terrain, would be for courses in other states to provide some kind of virtual driving experience.

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