The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently proposed a set of national prerequisite training standards for entry-level commercial truck and bus operators seeking to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL). A negotiated rulemaking committee comprised of FMCSA representatives and a number of stakeholders responded to a Congressional mandate with their recommendations in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM). The next phase of the rulemaking will be to seek public comment.
Under this proposal, applicants seeking a “Class A” CDL (for the operation of a combination tractor-trailer type vehicle weighting 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 (for the operation of a heavy straight truck such as a dump 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.
Also under this proposal, mandatory, comprehensive training would apply to current CDL holders seeking a license upgrade or an additional endorsement; 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.
It is vital that commercial vehicle drivers receive the necessary training required to safely operate large vehicles. Safer drivers ensure greater safety on our highways and roads. Our firm applauds any efforts to require entry-level truck drivers to receive the training necessary to safely operate these commercial vehicles on our nation’s roadways. Unfortunately, our lawyers are concerned that the proposed rulemaking doesn’t go far enough and that it could be even further watered down during the rulemaking process.
Our firm’s lawyers are experienced in handling tractor trailer and commercial vehicle wreck cases. If you would like more information about trucking cases or the issue presented above, contact Chris Glover at 800-898-2034 or by email at Chris.Glover@beasleyallen.com. Chris is our firm’s lead lawyer in commercial truck litigation.
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