BITCO Insurance Companies

FMCSA Proposes National Training Standards for Entry-Level Truck and Bus Drivers

Release Date: March 7, 2016

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has 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 (CDL). The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) 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.

Although no empirical evidence linking safety to training was identified in FMCSA’s research, there remains a strongly held belief among stakeholders - including all who participated in the negotiated rulemaking – and the FMCSA that safety-oriented training does improve safety outcomes. The longstanding industry practice of providing such training to drivers - often at carriers’ expense - supports the notion that such training is not without merit.

The FMCSA believes this rulemaking will enhance the safety of commercial motor vehicle (CMV) operations on United States highways by establishing a more extensive entry-level driver training (ELDT) protocol and by increasing the number of drivers who receive ELDT. It would revise the standards for mandatory training requirements for entry-level operators of CMVs in interstate and intrastate operations who are required to possess a commercial driver's license (CDL). The proposed rule would primarily revise 49 CFR part 380, Special Training Requirements. It would require an individual who must complete the CDL skills test requirements, defined as an “Entry-Level Driver,” to receive mandatory training.

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 ten 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.

Irrespective of the number of hours of behind-the-wheel (BTW) training, the training provider must not issue a training certificate unless the student demonstrates proficiency in operating the CMV.

The NPRM proposes a Class A and Class B CDL core curriculum; training curricula related to hazardous materials (H); passenger (P); and school bus (S) endorsements; and a “refresher” training curriculum. The core, endorsement, and refresher curricula generally are subdivided into theory and BTW (range and public road) segments. There is no proposed minimum number of hours that driver-trainees must spend on the classroom portions of any of the individual curricula.

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:

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:

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) 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.

The proposed compliance date for this rule is three years after the effective date of the final rule to provide the states with sufficient time to pass necessary implementing legislation, to modify their information systems to begin recording the training provider’s certificate information on the Commercial Driver’s License Information System (CDLIS) driver record, and to begin making that information available from the CDLIS driver record. This proposed phase-in period would also allow time for the driver training industry to develop and begin offering training programs that meet the eligibility requirements for listing on the TPR.

Click here to view the NPRM which is scheduled to be published March 7, 2016. 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.

Click here to learn more about the ELDTAC, including a list of ELDTAC members, meeting minutes, and other related information.

COPYRIGHT ©2016, ISO Services, Inc.

The information contained in this publication was obtained from sources believed to be reliable. ISO Services, Inc., its companies and employees make no guarantee of results and assume no liability in connection with either the information herein contained or the safety suggestions herein made. Moreover, it cannot be assumed that every acceptable safety procedure is contained herein or that abnormal or unusual circumstances may not warrant or require further or additional procedure.

COPYRIGHT ©2016, ISO Services, Inc.