FMCSA Wants Input on Entry-Level Driver Training Needs

The current federal highways and infrastructure funding law requires the agency to issue final regulations by Oct. 1. It will host a March 22 listening session to solicit ideas.

Tucked into the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21, the current federal highways and infrastructure funding law) is Section 32304, which requires the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to issue final entry-level driver training regulations by Oct. 1.

FMCSA is still determining what elements it should require in that training, so it will host a March 22 listening session at the big Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Ky. to solicit ideas. The 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. session will be webcast; FMCSA will post information on how to participate at www.fmcsa.dot.gov one week ahead of time.

FMCSA implemented a training rule in 2004 that was not focused on behind-the-wheel training at all. Instead, it relied on the commercial driver’s license tests to encourage training in operating a vehicle. A federal appeals court in 2005 held the agency’s rule was arbitrary and capricious because it ignored behind-the-wheel training component.

Since then, FMCSA has planned to enact a final rule that would require people applying for a new or upgraded CDL to successfully complete classroom and behind-the-wheel training from an accredited program. MAP-21 adds some urgency to the process, and the listening session could give many drivers and fleet safety managers an opportunity to be heard.

Those who cannot attend in person (the Mid-America Trucking Show attracted 80,972 qualified attendees last year, making it one of the largest heavy-truck shows in the United States) or listen to the webcast can submit comments via docket number FMCSA-2007-27748 at www.regulations.gov.

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