SPECIAL REPORT: Committee seeks consensus for truck driver training rule

By Land Line staff | Friday, February 27, 2015

ARLINGTON, Va., Friday, Feb. 27 – A federally appointed committee tasked with negotiating a future driver-training rule for entry-level truck and bus drivers has wrapped up its first two-day meeting. Land Line Magazine Managing Editor Jami Jones says the committee has its ground rules in place to move forward and has formed subcommittees tasked with finding a consensus on a training curriculum, accreditation and cost-benefit analysis.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s 26 member Entry-Level Driver Training Advisory Committee consists of representatives from Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, American Trucking Associations, trucking schools, bus and motor coach groups, unions, law enforcement, FMCSA and more.

Congress required FMCSA to form the committee to negotiate a rulemaking.

“On the first day of meeting, they wrapped up some key issues that the committee is going to have to overcome or just resolve during this process, from what skills test is going to be required at the end of driver training to what would be the process for determining the adequacy of training,” Jones told “Land Line Now.”

“They moved forward in developing committees to address all of those different key items that they identified either as problematic or issues that need to be addressed,” she said. Some of the subcommittees will tackle cost-benefit analysis of a driver-training rule, certification/accreditation for training facilities, and an entry-level driver training curriculum.

Jones says it’s interesting that FMCSA is focusing so intently on cost-benefit for a training rule.

“The agency seems more bent on justifying this one through a cost-benefit than they have on other rulemakings like insurance minimums where they just grabbed at whatever research was out there and said, yep, we’re good to go,” she said.

“It’s interesting to see them be so methodical on this rulemaking that’s so commonsense that nobody in the room can argue against it.”

Data, she said, has never been collected that follows a driver candidate through a training school and tracks the candidate’s performance on the road. Subcommittee work could help determine a way forward on that issue.

“They are tasked with coming to a consensus of the framework of what a curriculum should be, how it should be measured, how it should be tracked – all of those things,” Jones said.

“The ground rules allow for three dissenting votes, so essentially they can go forward with 23 out of 26 agreeing,” she said. “And the agency can go forward with a notice of proposed rulemaking based on what this committee develops.”

“It’s an interesting dynamic to see people from differing point of views, knowing that we’re going to have some Survivor Island-kind of moves where there will be deals made and positions dropped in hopes that they get support on another one. It will be an interesting process to see what they come up with in the end.”

The committee is scheduled to meet five more times: March 19-20, April 9-10, April 23-24, May 14-15 and May 28-29. Committee members were asked to complete their work by May 29 and have a written statement ready for the agency by mid-June.

“Land Line Now” News Anchor Reed Black contributed to this story.

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