FMCSA Establishes Training Standards for New Truck Drivers
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced a final rule in December establishing minimum training standards for new truck and bus drivers obtaining a commercial driver’s license (CDL).
The rule identifies the minimum education and skills necessary to safely operate a commercial vehicle and establishes the qualifications required to provide entry-level training.
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The new FMCSA standards will require that all first-time CDL applicants in all 50 states and the District of Columbia demonstrate proficiency in knowledge and behind the wheel training on both a driving course and on the road. They must meet these requirements through an instructional program that meets FMCSA standards.
There is no requirement for a minimum number of hours of real-world driving, which has been highly criticized by a number of trade groups and trucking associations. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking from the FMCSA included a minimum requirement of 30 hours of driver training, however, that was removed from the final rule.
The FMCSA has stated that it removed the minimum driving requirement because it did not make fiscal sense and it was difficult to quantify the benefits. It noted a lack of data showing the benefits of the additional driver training.
More than 32 states and leading CDL training schools require a minimum number of driving hours, and the Commercial Vehicle Training Association requires 40 hours of real-world driving for new drivers.
Currently, new drivers in New Jersey must pass a written knowledge and behind-the-wheel skills test. Applicants are encouraged but not required to participate in a training course and are not required to spend a minimum number of hours on the road.
The FMCSA’s rulemaking was required by the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) issued by Congress, and the rulemaking committee consisted of 25 stakeholders and FMCSA representatives. The rule is set to go into effect on Feb. 6, 2017.