Reminder – In New Zealand, even dogs get on-road driver training

December 12, 2016

Greg Grisolano


When Land Line Managing Editor Jami Jones shared a Dec. 10 video from aggregator In The NOW’s Facebook feed of rescue dogs driving a car on a closed track in New Zealand, my first thought was, “Huh. Looks like dogs in New Zealand have more mandatory windshield time for driver training than truckers in America do.”

Sure, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration just passed a proficiency-based entry-level driver training standard – the first of its kind in the U.S. – last week. But the folks at FMCSA seem to have forgotten the most critical component of that regulation – mandating some on-road and range time for new drivers. The committee of 26 industry stakeholders (including OOIDA) passed on a recommendation of 30 hours of behind-the-wheel training for new truck drivers when the proposal passed through the negotiated rulemaking committee last year. FMCSA said they opted not to include a minimum number of hours behind the wheel, but did say it would study the results of training and make future adjustments if necessary.

Meanwhile, the dogs in the video received two months’ worth of driver training before going on live TV and demonstrating their skills on a closed race track.


Astute readers may recognize that the video, although brought back to life recently thanks to the wonders of social media, is actually from December 2012. Footage of the so-called “motor mutts” went viral, and even made an appearance on David Letterman’s “The Late Show.”

In case you’re wondering, the dogs in the video spent seven weeks doing their training, according to this 2012 report from the BBC. The cars were specially modified to have brake and accelerators pedals on the dashboard, as well as handles on the steering wheel.

The stunt, which was set up by the Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Auckland (New Zealand’s capitol) aimed to prove that you can, in fact teach an old (rescue) dog new tricks. LL