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Feds propose national training standards for entry-level truck drivers

Friday, March 04, 2016   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Ford Boswell
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The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has released a "pre-proposed" set of comprehensive national prerequisite training standards for entry-level commercial truck and bus operators seeking to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL).

The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), issued Friday, March 04, 2016, reflects consensus recommendations of a negotiated rulemaking committee comprised of FMCSA representatives and 25 stakeholders and responds to a Congressional mandate imposed under the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act. Public comment is sought as the next phase of the rulemaking.

“Well-trained drivers are safer drivers, which leads to greater safety for our families and friends on our highways and roads,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “With the help of our partners, today’s proposal serves as a major step towards ensuring that commercial vehicle drivers receive the necessary training required to safely operate a large truck or motorcoach.”

Under the proposal, applicants seeking a “Class A” CDL – necessary for operating a combination tractor-trailer type vehicle weighing 26,001 lbs. or more – would be required to obtain a minimum of 30 hours of behind-the-wheel training from an instructional program that meets FMCSA standards, including a minimum of 10 hours of operating the vehicle on a practice driving range.

Applicants seeking a “Class B” CDL – necessary for operating a heavy straight truck (such as a dump truck or box truck) or a school bus, city transit bus, or motorcoach – would be required to obtain a minimum of 15 hours of behind-the-wheel training, including a minimum of seven hours of practice range training.

There is no proposed minimum number of hours that driver trainees must spend on the classroom portions of any of the individual curricula.

“A diverse group of commercial motor vehicle stakeholders completed a tremendous amount of work, and that effort resulted in an unprecedented consensus,” said FMCSA Acting Administrator Scott Darling. “We’ve designated 2016 as our ‘Year of Partnerships’ and these comprehensive entry-level driver training standards exemplify our commitment to working closely with our safety partners, including state and local law enforcement, the safety advocacy community, and all other stakeholders to reduce crashes and to save lives.”

Mandatory, comprehensive training in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and all U.S. territories would apply to the following individuals under the proposal:

  • First-time CDL applicants;
  • Current CDL holders seeking a license upgrade (e.g., a Class B CDL holder seeking a Class A CDL) or an additional endorsement (necessary, e.g., to transport hazardous materials, operate a tank truck, school bus, or motorcoach, or pull double and/or triple trailers); and
  • A previously disqualified CDL holder seeking to reacquire a license.

These individuals would be subject to the proposed entry-level driver training requirements and must complete a course of instruction provided by an entity that:

  • Meets the minimum qualifications for training providers;
    Covers the curriculum;
  • Is listed on FMCSA’s proposed Training Provider Registry; and
  • Submits electronically to FMCSA the training certificate for each individual who completes the training.

Under the proposal, military drivers, farmers, and firefighters would continue to remain generally exempt from the federal CDL requirements.

FMCSA’s Entry-Level Driver Training Advisory Committee (ELDTAC) met for six two-day negotiating sessions starting in February 2015 until reaching consensus in May 2015.  The ELDTAC included FMCSA representatives and a cross-section of 25 representatives from motor carrier transportation, highway safety, driver training, state licensing, law enforcement, labor union, and insurance organizations.

Click here to view the NPRM. Members of the public will have the opportunity to review the NPRM and submit comments to the docket for 30 days following its publication in the Federal Register. 

Click here for more information on entry-level driver training.

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