Action on driver training is promising, OOIDA says

By David Tanner, Land Line senior editor | Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has taken its first step forward in years on the issue of entry-level driver training. The administration announced Tuesday, Aug. 19, that it will seek input from stakeholders on what a possible training rule should look like, but will gather that input a little differently than it typically does.

FMCSA published a notice in the Federal Register to announce that the administration is exploring the feasibility of using a “negotiated rulemaking,” which involves hiring a “convener,” which is a type of moderator, who will meet with stakeholder groups and report their talking points back to the administration.

FMCSA would then use the convener’s report to develop a final rule.

This process differs from the standard “notice of proposed rulemaking” and request for public comments that typically precedes a final rule.

OOIDA is hopeful that a negotiated rulemaking will result in a final rule that sets behind-the-wheel standards for entry-level truckers. Currently, commercial driving standards do not require a specific amount of hands-on, behind-the-wheel training.

“We welcome the long awaited action by the FMCSA to address entry-level training standards,” OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer said.

“OOIDA and its membership are ready to work with the convener and the agency to ensure that all new commercial vehicle operators are trained to operate a vehicle safely and efficiently in real-world conditions.”

Spencer points out that FMCSA’s notice of intent does not include a timeline for the convener to carry out the report.

“We encourage the agency to lay out a more specific plan and timeline to ensure that the process to develop meaningful training requirements will stay on track.” Spencer said.

The history of driver training for truckers – and the lack of a specific behind-the-wheel standard for new drivers – goes back decades.

The latest notice of intent has got the ball rolling again.

FMCSA came close with a 2007 proposed rule to set classroom and behind-the-wheel standards for entry-level truckers, but the proposal never made the transition to final rule.

Congress approved a highway bill in 2012 that included a provision to require the administration to issue a final rule on driver training. FMCSA officially scrapped its 2007 proposal in 2013 and started over in the process.

OOIDA believes entry-level driver training can make significant improvements to highway safety. The Association launched its Truckers For Safety agenda last year to draw attention to the issue. Visit www.truckersforsafety.com to learn more.

Copyright © OOIDA

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