FMCSA proposes LCV regs for drivers, teachers and carriers

| Thursday, August 14, 2003

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration wants new training requirements for drivers who wish to get a certificate to drive longer combination vehicles, for instructors who teach drivers and for carriers who employ them.

This is the first time DOT has established training requirements for LCV drivers and others. In the future, the FMCSA is expected to publish “graduated commercial driver’s license” rules, which also would address for the first time minimum standards on who gets to drive a “plain ‘ol” 18-wheeler.

The official definition of an LCV is any combination of a truck-tractor and two or more trailers or semi-trailers that have a gross vehicle weight rating greater than 80,000 pounds and operate in interstate commerce. Twin trailers, also known as western doubles, would not be subject to this proposed rule.

Some specifics

Because LCV double trailers and LCV triple trailers have different operating characteristics, the FMCSA has proposed separate training courses for each vehicle group.

The proposed curriculum for the LCV training would consist of orientation, operation, safe operating practices, advanced operation and non-driving activities, such as route and trip planning, and checking on cargo and weight.

The double or triple trailer endorsement requires a minimal knowledge of coupling and uncoupling procedures, or connecting and disconnecting, and vehicle inspections unique to these LCVs.

To qualify for training, the proposed rule would require that a student driver must, for at least six months before training, have a valid CDL with a double or triple trailer endorsement. This endorsement ensures the driver has a basic knowledge of coupling and uncoupling and inspection procedures for these vehicles.

Additional training requirements include no convictions or suspensions in a CMV or CDL disqualifying offenses and no at-fault accidents in a CMV. Those driving a double trailer would need evidence of Group A driving experience. Group A vehicles have a gross combination weight rating of 26,001 or more pounds, including a trailer with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more.

Those driving a triple trailer would need evidence of Group A tractor-trailer or twin-trailer experience. Motor carriers may waive driver-training requirements if there’s certification that during the last two years the driver had a valid Class A CDL with a double or triple endorsement; no convictions or suspensions in a CMV for CDL-disqualifying offenses; no CMV at-fault accidents; and evidence of regular and continuing employment and operation of an LCV group.

Motor carriers must ensure that drivers meet these conditions before granting the waiver.

Instructor qualifications

To qualify as an LCV driver-instructor, the proposal requires that an individual have successfully completed the appropriate LCV driver-training course; have a valid Class A CDL with applicable endorsements; and have at least two years' driving experience for the type of LCV instruction he or she intends to provide.

Instructor requirements may be waived if a candidate met the conditions for a driver waiver of training requirements, and during the last two years has had experience operating the LCV group he or she intends to teach, and has experience teaching courses similar in content to the LCV curriculum.

Motor carrier responsibilities

Under the proposal, motor-carrier employers must:

  • Allow only drivers with a certificate of completion for LCV training or a certificate waiver to operate an LCV.
  • Allow drivers to operate only LCVs that they are authorized to drive by the driver-training certificate, CDL and endorsements.
  • Maintain a copy of the LCV driver-training certificate for each LCV driver.
  • Use instructors who meet the qualification requirements to provide LCV training.
  • Maintain an LCV instructor qualification file for every instructor employed or under contract.

Written comments on this notice of proposed rulemaking should be sent by Oct. 11, 2003, to the USDOT Docket Facility, Attn: Docket No. FMCSA-97-2176, Room PL-401, 400 Seventh Street, S.W., Washington, DC, 20590-0001. Comments can also be faxed to (202) 493-2251.

The rule will be posted on the Internet and can be viewed after searching at http://dms.dot.gov/ . Comments may be submitted at http://dms.dot.gov/submit.

--by Dick Larsen, senior editor

Dick Larsen can be reached at dlarsen@landlinemag.com.

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