Finally, some action on driver training

By David Tanner, Land Line senior editor | Thursday, September 18, 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 Aug. 19 that it will seek input from stakeholders on what a possible training rule should look like.

Rather than using a traditional rulemaking and public comment process, the FMCSA is exploring the use of a “negotiated rulemaking” a process that uses a hired moderator or “convener” who meets with stakeholder groups and reports their input to the administration for consideration in developing a possible 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 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.

OOIDA has fought for years in the regulatory, legislative and legal realm on the issue. The Association launched truckersforsafety.com as another tool in the fight.

At press time, Public Citizen announced a lawsuit filed by Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways, and the Teamsters that seeks to force the U.S. DOT to implement a rule on entry-level driver training standards as soon as possible.

Plaintiff attorney Adina Rosenbaum explained the rationale for the lawsuit.

“Although the agency has announced that it has begun to look into the negotiated rulemaking process, it certainly hasn’t given any sort of timeframe of when it expects that to be completed and when it expects to have a final rule on the issue,” Rosenbaum told Land Line.

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