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Training standards for new truck drivers: Are they tough enough?

Large trucks weigh 20 or 30 times as much as passenger cars and that weight differential can be devastating in a crash. Large trucks are also much taller than smaller vehicles, posing the risk of underride accidents.

How much and what type of training should drivers of these huge trucks be required to get?

Development of the new rule

Federal regulators spent many months working on a proposal for more uniform national training standards for commercial vehicle operators.

When the Trump administration took office, it ordered a delay in new regulations becoming law. Last week, however, a new federal rule went into place, setting national training standards for people seeking a commercial driver's license (CDL).

The rule includes:

•· Minimum classroom curriculum on items such as vehicle-control systems, truck maintenance and avoiding distracted driving

•· Use of trainers to judge whether pre-CDL drivers have sufficient proficiency

•· Creation of a registry of approved trainers

Behind-the-wheel requirements

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) worked closely with trucking industry stakeholders in developing the new rule. Though the agency originally proposed a 30-hour threshold for behind-the-wheel training, that threshold was dropped from the final proposal.

Instead, it will be up to trainers, drawn from an official registry, who will determine proficiency for getting a CDL.

Trucking companies and others affected by the rule have until February 7, 2020 to comply with it.

Of course, there is also the question of whether affected parties will actually comply with the new rule - and how rigorously the FMCSA will enforce it.

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