FMCSA advances amended entry-level driver training rule

By Mark Schremmer, Land Line associate editor | 3/5/2019

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is moving forward with a final rule aimed at making it easier for drivers to upgrade a Class B commercial driver’s license to a Class A CDL.

According to the agency, adopting a new Class A CDL theory instruction upgrade curriculum will save eligible driver trainees and motor carriers $18 million annually.

“Today’s action demonstrates the department’s commitment to reducing regulatory burdens and addressing our nation’s shortage of commercial drivers,” U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said in a news release.

The final rule amends the entry-level driver training rule that was published in December 2016 and requires the same level of theory training for individuals obtaining a CDL for the first time as for those who already hold a Class B CDL and are upgrading to a Class A CDL.

FMCSA said Class B CDL holders shouldn’t be required to receive the same level of theory training as individuals who have never had a CDL.

“This effort is a commonsense way of reducing the regulatory burdens placed on CDL applicants and their employers,” FMCSA Administrator Ray Martinez said. “FMCSA continues to strategically reform burdensome regulations to improve the lives of ordinary Americans by saving them valuable time and money – while simultaneously maintaining the highest level of safety.”

The rule, which is set to go into effect Feb. 7, 2020, only applies to Class B CDL holders and does not change the training requirements created in the 2016 entry-level driver training rule.

After the amended rule was proposed in June 2018, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association said it agreed with the agency’s efforts to reduce redundancy in the certification process, but OOIDA also said it believes the cost savings from the rulemaking should be reinvested into entry-level driver training programs, specifically behind-the-wheel instruction.

OOIDA also said it continues to push for minimum behind-the-wheel requirements that were left out of the final entry-level driver training rule.

The final rule is set to publish in the Federal Register on Wednesday, March 6.

 

 

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