FMCSA Proceeds with Minimum Training Rule for New Truck Drivers

June 08, 2017 by Clarissa Hawes

After numerous delays, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration now plans to proceed with its final rule dictating minimum training rules for new truck drivers.

The agency was set to put the mandate into place but delayed implementation following the Trump Administration’s order in January that froze all pending regulations until further review.

The new training rule still won’t start for years. The compliance date is Feb. 7, 2020.

The American Trucking Associations praised the agency’s publication of the final rule, calling it a “victory for safety and commonsense.”

“This rule will improve highway safety by ensuring that new drivers can properly demonstrate mastery of the knowledge and skills necessary to safely operate a commercial vehicle, rather than by adhering to arbitrary amounts of classroom or behind-the-wheel instruction,” Bill Sullivan, executive vice president for advocacy for ATA, told Trucks.com.

FMCSA developed the rule to establish minimum training requirements for first-time applicants for commercial driver’s licenses, or CDLs; drivers seeking to upgrade their CDL to another classification; and truck drivers seeking an endorsement for hazardous materials, passenger or school bus operations for their license for the first time.

The rule combines some behind-the-wheel training with a classroom curriculum. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and safety industry group, however, say the FMCSA rule is not strong enough. They wanted to see a minimum of 30 hours behind the wheel for new drivers. Such a proposal was included in FMCSA’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, but was eliminated from the agency’s final rule issued on Dec. 6, 2016.

“We have supported minimum training standards for decades, including behind-the-wheel training,” Norita Taylor, spokeswoman for OOIDA, told Trucks.com. “We think new drivers need as much real-world experience as possible to be prepared to drive a truck – it’s in their best interest and the motoring public’s best interest.”

The FMCSA said it didn’t include minimum behind-the-wheel training hours in its final rule because such a requirement didn’t make fiscal sense and its safety benefits were hard to quantify. The federal agency is required to consider a cost-benefit analysis when it issues a new rule.

“The lack of data directly linking training to improvements in safety outcomes, such as reduced crash frequency or severity, posed a challenge to the Agency, FMCSA said in its final rule.

The agency said adding 30 hours of driver training would only reduce the frequency of crashes involving new drivers by about 3.6 percent.

The rule was mandated by Congress under the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century – or MAP-21 – highway bill, which was passed in 2012.

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One Response

  1. Bob Stanton

    The ELDT rule is woefully inadequate. The negotiated rulemaking committee which had representatives from many sectors of trucking and good experts in driver training made a compromise reccomendation of a minimum of 30 hours behind the wheel training. Many felt 30 hours was not enough. Any minimum hour requirement was stripped out by the White house Office of Management and Budget for cost issues under the Obama administration.

    Things like…. driving at night is only a classroom topic. Reccomendations from written comments on the proposed rule to require a minimum amount of the behind the wheel training be conducted during hours of darkness were also stripped out.

    We deal with regulation that create huge costs to trucking to comply with but when some pretty common sense things like having a new drivers first experience driving a semi at night be supervised by an experienced driver trainer gets stripped out…. where is the safety benefit.

    Reply

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