DRIVER TRAINING: Training for new drivers must be priority for FMCSA, OOIDA says

By David Tanner, Land Line associate editor | 4/1/2014

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has stepped forward to urge Congress to pass a highway bill and to make sure it contains driver training standards for entry-level commercial operators.

The Association says driver training standards are long past overdue and, when implemented, would go a long way toward making highways safer.

“There’s been a lot coming out of Washington that truckers view as a step backwards or missing the point with highway safety, resulting only in negatives for small-business truckers,” said OOIDA Director of Government Affairs Ryan Bowley.

“Ensuring there’s a knowledgeable, experienced driver behind the wheel and that new people coming into the industry receive the training they need not only addresses safety, but addresses the continued push by others toward more regulation,” Bowley said.

OOIDA is urging contact with lawmakers through email, social media, letters and phone calls. Click here to open an email form and make comments.

On social media sites Facebook and Twitter, OOIDA is encouraging people to use the hashtag #trainnewtruckers on posts related to driver training and advocacy.

Talking points are available on OOIDA’s Truckers for Safety campaign website, OOIDA encourages truckers to modify and write their own personal messages as part of the campaign.

“This is a great opportunity for truckers as the highway bill is being developed by the House and Senate – to reach out to lawmakers and say there’s a better way to address highway safety,” Bowley said.

“The best way to do this is for Congress to pass a highway bill and include real entry-level driver training standards in the bill rather than waiting for the administration to do it on its own. The ties between training and the highway bill could not be stronger,” Bowley said.

The Association says the highway bill is the necessary and proper avenue to pursue training standards and other issues important to truckers because it is where Congress authorizes trucking regulations and motor carrier safety programs.

The current highway bill, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century, or MAP-21, is set to expire Sept. 30. MAP-21 has set policy and funding levels for transportation for the past two years.

Congressional committees are meeting regularly to draft bill language. Many have discussed the need for a five- or six-year highway bill that would give states and stakeholders some certainty about projects and funding going forward.

OOIDA President and CEO Jim Johnston helped launch the driver training push on Monday. Click here to read his comments.

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