FMCSA Proposes Training Standards for Entry-Level

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration proposed a set of comprehensive national prerequisite training standards for entry-level commercial truck and bus operators seeking to obtain a commercial driver’s license. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking 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 highways and roads,” said United States Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “With the help of our partners, today’s proposal serves as a major step toward ensuring that commercial vehicle drivers receive the necessary training required to safely operate a large truck or motor coach.

Under the proposal, applicants seeking a Class A CDL, necessary for operating a combination tractor-trailer type vehicle weighing 26,001 pounds or more, would be required to obtain a minimum 30 hours of behind-the-wheel training from an instructional program that meets FMCSA standards, including a minimum of 10 hours 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 motor coach, 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 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 Trainer 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 met for six two-day negotiating sessions starting in February 2015 until reaching consensus in May 2015. The ELDTAC included FMCSA representatives from motor carrier transportation, highway safety, driving training, state licensing, law enforcement, labor union and insurance organizations.