New truck drivers face national minimum training standards

December 15, 2016 By    

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The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced a final rule establishing comprehensive national minimum training standards for entry-level commercial truck and bus operators seeking to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL) or certain endorsements.

The entry-level driver training final rule, which the propane industry opposed while calling it “excessive,” takes effect Feb. 6, 2017, with a compliance date of February 2020.

“The entry-level training standards for large truck and bus operators exemplify a commitment to safety from a broad coalition of commercial motor vehicle stakeholders,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx says.

The standards established in the rule address the knowledge and skills necessary for the safe operation of commercial motor vehicles and also establish minimum qualifications for entities and individuals who provide entry-level driver training, FMCSA says. Congress mandated the rulemaking in the 2012 Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21).

“Having minimum training requirements for drivers, and especially hazmat drivers, is a reasonable objective,” states a National Propane Gas Association (NPGA) issue brief prepared for its 2016 Propane Days lobbying event in Washington, D.C., where the industry argued against the rule’s implementation. “However, these requirements should be workable and based on scientifically supported data. That would be a much better approach than the current arbitrary standards that are set by the new FMCSA rule.”

NPGA says it had concerns about a minimum number of hours for training, as well as a recordkeeping burden. While FMCSA did not require a minimum number of hours for the knowledge or behind-the-wheel portions of the individual training curricula, several burdensome recordkeeping requirements remain part of the final rule, NPGA adds. The association says it is reviewing the regulation and considering next steps for the new year.

Under the final rule, applicants seeking a CDL would be required to demonstrate proficiency in knowledge training and behind-the-wheel training on a driving range and public road, with training obtained from an instructional program that meets FMCSA standards. Training providers must determine that each CDL applicant demonstrates proficiency in all required elements of the training in order to successfully complete the program, FMCSA says.

Mandatory, comprehensive training in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and all U.S. territories would apply to first-time CDL applicants, including “Class A” and “Class B” CDLs, and current CDL holders seeking a license upgrade or an additional endorsement necessary to transport hazardous materials or to operate a motorcoach or school bus.

Drivers who are not subject to or exempted from federal CDL requirements are not subject to the final rule, FMCSA adds.

Brian Richesson

About the Author:

Brian Richesson is the editor in chief of LP Gas Magazine. Contact him at brichesson@northcoastmedia.net or 216-706-3748.

1 Comment on "New truck drivers face national minimum training standards"

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  1. Making it harder for the small Mom & Pop retailer to train new drivers. The expense to do it will make the cost of delivery more and harder to continue to compete with the expansion of natural gas.