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Training for entry-level truckers: the federal rule process

The process of creating a mandatory federal rule can be an exhausting one. In the field of truck safety, we have seen this time and again regarding rules such as hours-of-service (HOS) limitations for drivers. The fight over HOS limitations went on for so long that it was dubbed the "never-ending saga."

Those new limitations are now finally in place. There are other areas of truck safety, however, where federal rules still need to be clarified or created. One of those, as we discussed in our previous post, is regarding trucker drivers' sleep disorders. Another, as we will discuss in this post, concerns the training of new drivers who are seeking a commercial driver's license (CDL).

Last week, federal regulators withdrew a rulemaking process on entry-level training for truck drivers. In its place, regulators will put forward a new proposal that takes account of current safety information and Congressional requirements.

The agency that is handling this rulemaking is the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). 

In re-starting the rulemaking process, FMCSA noted that in its Map-21 transportation law, Congress authorized the development of uniform federal standards for truck driver training. The rule is to include components on the knowledge, skills and abilities required for safe truck operation. In addition, the rule is supposed to address the specifics of how hazardous materials endorsements should be handled.

The rulemaking process that FMCSA withdrew last week dated back to 2007. It appears that FMCSA did not really give much priority to making that process show real results.

Given this context, launching the process again could be a way to start fresh and give it the urgency it is due. It is not, as golfers would say, merely a "mulligan."

Actually, the best analogy may come from football. It is not as if FMCSA has punted away its responsibilities. It is more like going back to the huddle and getting clarity on the game plan for accomplishing the goals set by Congress for more effective truck driver training that will reduce the risk of truck accidents.

Source: Overdrive, "FMCSA scraps old training proposal, embarks on new rulemaking," Jill Dunn, May 20, 2013

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