FMCSA announces delay of entry-level driver training rule

January 30, 2020

Mark Schremmer

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Confirming what was already expected, the FMCSA is amending its entry-level driver training rule to delay implementation for two years.

The interim final rule with extension of compliance date is expected to publish in the Federal Register in the coming days.  FMCSA says the final rule’s compliance date, which was scheduled to be Feb. 7, will now be Feb. 7, 2022.

Land Line previously reported in November that the agency was poised to postpone the entire rule for two years.

FMCSA says the delay will give it time to complete development of the Training Provider Registry, which will allow training providers to self-certify that they meet the training requirements. The agency previously announced a delay for the state driver licensing agencies to receive driver-specific entry-level driver training information.

“FMCSA is delaying the entire entry-level driver training rule, as opposed to a partial delay as proposed, due to delays in implementation of the Training Provider Registry that were not foreseen when the proposed rule was published,” the notice stated.

Background

The original entry-level driver training rule was published on Dec. 7, 2016, giving the industry, state and federal agencies more than three years to comply.

The final rule details the curriculum for individuals seeking Class A and Class B CDLs to drive trucks and/or buses. Additional curriculum segments are included for specialized niches like hazardous materials. The final rule was later amended to ease the transition from Class B to Class A licenses in May, reducing some of the theory curriculum requirements.

The rule does not include a specified amount of time required for behind-the-wheel training for either the range or on-road training. Instead, the agency opted for a proficiency-based approach that will accommodate individuals who learn at different paces. The trainers will be required to check off on a list of skills as each is mastered.

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OOIDA’s view

For decades, OOIDA has supported national driver training standards and the Association was an active participant in the negotiated rulemaking process that began in 2015.

In August, OOIDA filed comments opposed to any delays of the rule.

“The December 2016 final rulemaking established a three-year compliance period that should have been sufficient for the agency and the states to prepare for next year’s implementation date. Any further extensions will only delay the safety benefits that will come from more comprehensive entry-level driver training requirements,” OOIDA President Todd Spencer wrote in August.

“Delaying the rule directly contradicts FMCSA’s mission of reducing crashes, injuries and fatalities involving large trucks. Truckers will tell you the best way to promote safety is improving the driver training requirements and right now too many new drivers enter the industry without the basic skills or knowledge to safely operate a commercial motor vehicle.”

The two-year delay does, in turn, present some opportunity for improvement in the rule.

“While the regulations that were expected to take effect next year would have undoubtedly improved highway safety, the rulemaking still did not include any behind-the-wheel instruction necessary for acquiring a CDL. This is difficult to comprehend when you look at some industries with far less public safety implications that require hundreds if not thousands of hours of training before licensing individuals,” Spencer wrote. “Even within transportation, commercial pilots typically need at least 250 hours of actual flight time before they can be licensed. If the regs are delayed another two years, OOIDA will continue working with Congress and FMCSA in order to establish substantive, mandatory minimum standards for behind-the-wheel training before the next implementation date.”

Land Line Managing Editor Jami Jones contributed to this report.

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Mark Schremmer

Mark Schremmer, senior editor, joined Land Line in 2015. An award-winning journalist and former assistant news editor at The Topeka Capital-Journal, he brings fresh ideas, solid reporting skills, and nearly two decades of journalism experience to our staff.