Last Day to Comment on New-Trucker Training Rule: Many Opposed

Today's the deadline for commenting on the December 2007 proposed rule from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration on minimum training requirements for entry-level commercial motor vehicle operators, and the comments against have been piling up. Trucking companies, associations, and bus companies have been filing comments that say the rule won't accomplish anything except possibly putting them out of business, both because it will be expensive and because they may be unable to hire satisfactorily trained drivers, according to the rule's definition.

Greyhound Lines Inc. filed comments yesterday charging that the "fatally flawed" rule would impose "a massive and costly new training program with no factual basis to support it." Greyhound's government affairs representative, Theodore Knappen, wrote that FMCSA itself noted in the NPRM that it lacked data linking decreased crash rates to formal training programs. Thus, the rule cannot be justified, Knappen wrote. Eric Sauer, VP Policy Development for the California Trucking Association, made the same point in his May 21 comments: "Implementing a federal rule without research or evidence that establishes a parallel between structured commercial driver training and Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) crash reduction or enhanced CMV driver safety is unwarranted," he wrote. "In the absence of empirical evidence, the CTA cannot conclude that a rule which would affect the entire motor carrier industry (including drivers, training entities, motor carriers, small businesses, and licensing agencies) is adequately justified at this time."

The National Association of Chemical Distributors' VP Government & Public Affairs, Jennifer Gibson, also called the rule "unjustified" in her May 22 comments on behalf of NACD. Requiring that all entry-level drivers receive their training through a provider or program accredited by an agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council of Higher Education Accreditation is not feasible for most businesses, including chemical distributors, Gibson said. She also said that, with an average of more than 50,000 new drivers being hired in each of the next 10 years, there is no guarantee training capacity could be increased enough to meet the demand. Like some other commenters, she said existing evidence -- FMCSA's own data of large truck crashes and NHTSA traffic safety data -- proves the current system is working.

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