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Monday, March 1, 2021

Safety Groups Petition FMCSA

Four trucking industry groups petitioned the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to reconsider provisions of the Final Rule for Entry-Level Driver requirements.

Earlier this year, the FMCSA proposed a minimum of 10 hours of training on a “driving range” as well as an unspecified amount of time driving on a public road. However, the final rule does not require any behind-the-wheel time and leaves the decision to license entry-level drivers to instructors employed by state licensing agencies.

Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, the Truck Safety Coalition and Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways filed the petition on Dec. 21. In it, they stress the importance of operating a commercial motor vehicle on public roads with an experienced instructor encountering safety critical situations.

The groups stated, “This type of real-world training and experience that CDL candidates need, and that several bodies of experts have determined should be required, in order to enhance the ability of CDL applicants to operate a truck-trailer combination vehicle safely and to avoid crashes.”

To support their position, they also raised the following points:

A 1995 Federal Highway Administration report entitled “Assessing the Adequacy of Commercial Motor Vehicle Driver Training” determined minimum criteria on eight key factors of driver training, including time behind the wheel, which was set as “38.5 hours for heavy trucks and
motor coaches as well as 9 hours for school buses.”

Leading CDL training schools nationwide already require their students complete a minimum number of hours of behind-the-wheel training, ranging from 74 to 44 hours.

Several states already have minimum behind-the-wheel training standards in place. Illinois requires 40 hours; Kentucky 45, Maine 44 hours for Class A applicants and 20 hours for Class B applicants; and Ohio at least 40 hours.

The petitioners have requested a stay of the effective date of the 2016 Final Rule until the Administrator can render a decision on this Petition for Reconsideration.