Proposed driver training rule about to go public

By Jami Jones, Land Line managing editor | Friday, February 19, 2016

The proposed rulemaking on entry-level driver training has cleared its final hurdle before its public debut. The proposed rule cleared the White House’s Office of Management and Budget review on Thursday, Feb. 18.

The proposed driver training regulation is the result of the Entry-Level Driver Training Committee. The committee was formed by 26 industry stakeholders as part of a negotiated rulemaking process. The group included representatives from all segments of the industry, including associations such as OOIDA and ATA, trucking schools, trucking companies, special-interest lobbying groups and one lone owner-operator.

The committee met for six two-day sessions earlier this year to find consensus as part of a negotiated rulemaking. The working statement released by the committee serves as a framework for the NPRM submitted by FMCSA to OMB.

The group nailed down curriculum topics and directed the agency to set up a registry of training providers so the agency could track the quality of the training through graduates. The committee also agreed on at least 30 hours of behind-the-wheel training, with 10 on the range, 10 on the road, and the remaining 10 left to be divided as instructors see fit.

Small training providers, those training three or fewer people in a 12-month time frame, will also be allowed to provide training, according to the consensus of the group.

Given that the regulation will apply only to pre-CDL training, it was the collective hopes of the committee members and the agency that with the registry and the tracking of students after training, the agency will be able to collect data on the safety performance of the trainees.

While discussed, post-CDL training was outside the scope of the committee’s task. Many members expressed throughout the process that this rulemaking will serve as the first steps in improving the quality of drivers entering the industry. And the data will offer insights into any gaps in the initial training and what training if any should be implemented post-CDL.

Once a rulemaking clears the White House review, it will be published in the Federal Register generally within a week or so. That will be the first public look at what FMCSA did with the consensus recommendations of the committee. The agency has slated only a 30-day comment period, as opposed to the customary 60-day comment period.

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