California bill targets CDL 'diploma mills'

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 4/16/2015

If a California state lawmaker gets his way, a new rule would be put in place that is intended to help ensure that aspiring truck drivers get the proper training before heading out on the road.

State law now requires commercial driver’s license applicants to pass written and driving tests.

The Senate Transportation and Housing Committee voted unanimously on Tuesday, April 14, to advance a bill from Sen. Bill Monning, D-Carmel, to add a requirement for prospective truckers to complete an instruction course from a commercial driving institution certified by the state before being issued a license.

Monning told committee members the Department of Motor Vehicles would be responsible for setting criteria and certifying that course training programs meet minimum standards to ensure driver proficiency when operating large trucks.

California law also exempts commercial driving courses that cost less than $2,500 from regulations set by the state.

In an effort to do away with “diploma mills,” Monning said the bill would eliminate the exemption.

The push at the statehouse follows a July 2014 fatal wreck along state Highway 17 in Los Gatos, which claimed the life of motorist Daniel McGuire of Santa Cruz. According to reports, McGuire was behind the wheel of a vehicle when he was struck by a driver after the truck’s brakes malfunctioned on a descent near Lexington Reservoir. Driving with less than three months of experience, the truck’s driver struck multiple vehicles, injuring seven and killing McGuire.

Monning called the bill a sensible measure that will bolster training standards for truck drivers and make roadways safer.

“Ensuring that commercial truck drivers receive adequate training before receiving their license will reduce the number of tragic and fatal accidents in California,” Monning said. “Ultimately, this bill will benefit the public and commercial drivers.”

The bill, SB344, awaits further consideration in the Senate.

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