ACE Services ‘exceeds expectations’ in first year

June 6, 2023 By    

On Feb. 7, 2022, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) implemented entry-level driver training regulations, which apply to any individual who’s striving to attain a Class A or Class B commercial driver’s license (CDL) or hazardous materials endorsement (HME).

The regulations require all CDL and HME applicants to complete theory and behind-the-wheel training before they take a skills and written test, in accordance with their respective state’s department of motor vehicles.

To help the propane industry comply with these regulations, the National Propane Gas Association (NPGA), while working with the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC), has created a program known as Administrative Compliance Experts (ACE) Services.

ACE Services assists propane marketers with the requirements that are associated with the regulations. The program helps marketers file paperwork and submit information to FMSCA. It also assists drivers as they navigate theory courses and participate in behind-the-wheel training.

Since NPGA is an FMCSA-registered training provider, it can submit required materials to FMCSA on CDL and HME applicants’ behalf. The fee-based program protects the entire on-road community – rather than only the propane industry – as it handles compliance matters.

“The first year of the program exceeded our expectations,” says Andrea Pavon, senior manager of ACE Services at NPGA. “To date, over 2,000 drivers have enrolled in our ACE Services entry-level driver training courses. We have hundreds of propane companies across the U.S. that use ACE Services, and we are beginning to see an increase in participation among the over-the-road community that’s based outside of the propane industry.”

Propane retailers can visit to register for the program and choose the course that’s most suitable for them. Once they’ve completed the enrollment process, applicants will have immediate access to the program, which is offered completely online.

“With regards to pricing, it varies based on the course package that each applicant chooses, as well as whether or not an applicant is an NPGA member,” Pavon says. “Either way, it will be more cost-friendly than sending a driver to a driving school.”

NPGA says it has received positive feedback about ACE Services since its launch, particularly concerning training materials, as the association provides an outlet for the industry to meet entry-level driver training requirements without members having to visit a brick-and-mortar location.

“Drivers will acquire full access to the theory training course online, via PERC, and regulatory compliance guidance through ACE Services,” Pavon says. “This allows drivers to attain behind-the-wheel training in-house.”

Looking ahead, Pavon says, NPGA will monitor all regulatory requirements and adjust the program whenever the requirements change.

NPGA is also focused on expanding the program’s reach outside the propane industry to the over-the-road community and again will adjust it as necessary.

“I believe ACE Services has a great future,” says Pavon. “Our hope is that we’re able to continuously contribute to the propane industry’s success through it.”

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