California bill would revise CDL training requirements

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 2/27/2017

A California state lawmaker is pursuing a rule change that is intended to improve safety on the state’s roadways by implementing new federal commercial driver regulations. Additional truck driver safety requirements would also be added.

Sen. Bill Monning, D-Carmel, is the sponsor of a 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 would be required to adopt regulations to comply with the federal rule by Feb. 7, 2020. SB158 would also establish minimum behind-the-wheel training requirements to be completed as part of CDL training.

Monning said the state must act to ensure that commercial truck and bus drivers are being held to the highest safety standards.

“SB158 builds on the new federal regulations and establishes a minimum of behind-the-wheel training hours to ensure that commercial drivers have the necessary experience to drive safely on our highways and roads, and prevent accidents caused by inadequately trained truck drivers,” Monning said in prepared remarks.

Monning cited a 2014 crash on Highway 17 when a truck crashed into 10 vehicles, injuring seven and killing Daniel McGuire of Santa Cruz, Calif. He 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 supports the effort at the statehouse. The trucker’s group claims 5,562 members residing in the state and thousands more who operate on the California highways each day.

Mike Matousek, OOIDA director of state legislative affairs, said 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. “SB158 would address this oversight by requiring CDL applicants in California to complete a minimum number of hours behind the wheel of a truck.”

Class A license applicants would need to complete 30 hours of behind-the-wheel training, of which 10 hours must be at an off-highway facility and 10 hours must be on public roads.

Class B license applicants would need to complete 15 hours of driving, of which seven hours must be on public roads.

The bill is in the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee.

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