ENTRY LEVEL DRIVER TRAINING
There is currently no required entry level driver training for Interstate truck driving. In New York, a person must complete 75 hours of training before he or she can become a licensed real estate salesperson. In Missouri, a person requires 1,500 training hours to obtain a cosmetology certificate. Yet, despite mounds of evidence demonstrating the safety benefits of requiring extensive behind-the-wheel training, truck drivers are not required to undergo training before they operate 80,000-lb big rigs on our roads and bridges.
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) developed a curriculum for entry level driver training (ELDT) for commercial motor vehicle drivers back in the mid-1980s. It was not until 1993, however, that the agency published an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM). Yet, regulatory action stalled again until 2002, when legal action was taken against the agency that is now responsible for this regulation – the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
After being sued, the agency produced an inadequate final rule in 2004. The training only required 10-hours of classroom instruction on four topics, and were completely devoid of any behind-the-wheel training. Consequently, safety advocates sued the agency, and the court remanded the FMCSA to produce an ELDT final rule that included behind-the-wheel training.
In 2007, the agency published a Notice of Propose Rulemaking (NPRM), but the agency failed to follow through to promulgate a final rule. It was not until the Entry Level Driver Training Advisory Committee (ELDTAC) met throughout 2015 that a rule was negotiated. The ELDT rule, based on the report from this working group, was published for public comment in March 2016.
Entry level driver training will improve safety for truckers as well as motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists. These regulations require commercial driver’s license applicants to train using a specific curriculum and behind-the-wheel training before they can attain a CDL.
The theoretical component mandates training on fatigue awareness, hours of service, trip planning, operating a vehicle under various conditions, and several other safety issues that a professional truck driver needs to address. The requisite 30 hours of behind-the-wheel training will further ensure that CDL applicants can translate their theoretical knowledge into practice for what they may encounter on our nation’s roads and bridges. The regulation also establishes standards for FMCSA-approved driver-training providers as well as a registry of those providers, both of which will help the agency ensure that this rulemaking is properly enforced.