SPECIAL REPORT: Driver training committee gets underway

By Jami Jones, Land Line managing editor | 2/26/2015

ARLINGTON, Va., Feb. 26, 2015 – The journey toward recommended entry-level driver training requirements has officially begun. The 26 members of the new Entry-Level Driver Training Advisory Committee established by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration completed its first day of a two-day meeting on Thursday.

The first part of the day centered on establishing the ground rules the committee will operate under in its quest to find consensus on recommended entry-level driver training requirements.

The committee consists of representatives from the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, American Trucking Associations, trucking schools, bus and motor coach groups, unions, law enforcement, FMCSA and more.

With ground rules adopted, the members of the committee waded into the 30-year history of the government’s attempt to mandate driver training. They also identified key issues that have prevented a rule from coming to fruition.

Committee members identified some of the key issues and challenges, such as what skill sets training should achieve; what an entry-level driver is; how driver training would be policed after the implementation of a rule; and what unique subsets of skills driver candidates could have prior to being trained, such as if the candidate is a military veteran.

The challenge before the committee and FMCSA is justifying the cost benefit analysis of a rule.

Members of the committee were warned that the more comprehensive the rule is, the more costly the rule will be. It will also require more data to justify.

The facilitator of the committee, Richard Parker of the University of Connecticut Law School, cautioned committee members to stay at the 20,000-foot level when identifying key issues that must be addressed to arrive at a proposal.

The committee will resume deliberations of key issues and challenges during Friday’s session.

FMCSA launched its negotiated rulemaking process – dubbed reg neg – in August 2014 to develop mandatory driver training for new drivers to the industry.

The administration intends to complete the reg neg process for the proposed rule within the first half of 2015 and to publish a notice of proposed rulemaking this year, followed by a final rule in 2016.

The committee is scheduled to meet four 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.

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