A quick search of CDL or commercial driver's license training programs in the Kansas City area brings up several businesses. 41 Action News quickly found several of them are not certified in both Kansas and Missouri.
We talked to certified CDL school owners on both sides of the state line to get a sense of why this matters.
Jeffrey Steinberg with Apex CDL Institute in Kansas City, Kansas said, "You have the credentials to do what you say you're going to do, that you have the training and the background, the experience. I had to become authorized as a director of education. They check to make sure that you have the facilities to provide the training you say you're going to provide, the equipment, if you've got experienced instructors and personnel."
That process took about four months and he has to check in every year.
Aaron Day with CDL Pros in Blue Springs told us, "They had to check out to make sure that I was bonded correctly, insured correctly, make sure that my employees had the right training, make sure that my curriculum was straight. I had to turn in over 500 pages to get started and it was about a year process."
The Board of Regents certifies CDL schools in Kansas. In Missouri, the Department of Higher Education is the agency that certifies. Both states review curriculum, equipment and the experience of the instructors during the certification process. It's also a misdemeanor in both states to operate without approval. Steinberg stressed that it happens anyway and, "It's not just under the table, it's rampant in the industry."
We asked both owners what could be behind so many businesses operating without approval. "One of the worst problems that this industry is dealing with right now is the driver shortage. It causes people to take shortcuts to getting drivers in the seat," Steinberg said. "Unqualified and untrained drivers are being put in the seat every day because of this demand for drivers."
Day places blame with the owners of the businesses operating without certification because "They know they're not legal and if they know they're not legal and they're teaching people, what else are they doing that's not legal that's making it very unsafe for us out here, especially in the Kansas City metro area?"
CDL Ready is one company that advertises "professional truck driver testing and training" on its website. When 41 Action News confronted the owner about running a school without a certification, he insisted that he isn't running a school.
CDL Quick told us over the phone that drivers are trained in parking lots.
These companies are just two of several we discovered in our investigation. Day emphasized, "It scares me. It scares me for the families of Kansas City to be on the road with these trucks."