A new law in California is intended to improve safety on the state’s roadways by implementing new federal commercial driver regulations. Additional truck driver safety requirements are included.
Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law the bill to implement a federal rule that requires people seeking a commercial driver’s license to complete a certified course of instruction from a commercial driving institution or program offered by an employer before being issued a license.
Specifically, the Department of Motor Vehicles will soon be required to adopt regulations to comply with the federal rule by June 5, 2020. Previously SB1236, the new law also establishes minimum behind-the-wheel training requirements to be completed as part of CDL training.
Sen. Bill Monning, D-Carmel, said the change is necessary to ensure that commercial truck and bus drivers are being held to the highest safety standards.
“Every day, Californians share the road with large commercial vehicles that transport commercial goods, hazardous materials, and passengers,” Monning said in previous remarks. “Commercial drivers who lack adequate training put everyone on the road at risk.”
Monning has highlighted data from the California Highway Patrol that shows 10,062 at-fault commercial vehicle collisions reported in a recent one-year time frame, of which 2,432 resulted in injury and 68 were fatal.
He singled out a 2014 crash on Highway 17 when a truck crashed into 10 vehicles, injuring seven and killing Daniel McGuire of Santa Cruz, Calif. Monning added that the driver’s lack of adequate training and experience was deemed a major factor in the incident.
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association backed the bill as it advanced through the statehouse. The trucker’s group claims nearly 6,000 members residing in the state and thousands more who operate on the California highways each day.
Mike Matousek, OOIDA manager of government affairs, says the Association supports the development of national entry-level driver training standards for CDL applicants.
He points out that a final rule on entry-level driver training standards published in December 2016 by the feds does not include a minimum number of hours of behind-the-wheel instruction.
“While the final rule will improve driver training and highway safety, it does not include a requirement that CDL applicants receive a minimum number of hours of behind-the-wheel instruction.”
Matousek said SB1236 addresses the oversight by requiring CDL applicants in California to complete a minimum number of hours behind the wheel of a truck.
Class A or Class B license applicants will need to complete 15 hours of behind-the-wheel training, of which 10 hours must be on a public road.
“While we would have preferred to see more hours of behind-the-wheel training included in the bill, we’re still supportive of the final product,” Matousek said.
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