FMCSA still clarifying how B-Train rule affects Canadians

WASHINGTON, (July 13, 2004) — The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has confirmed it will review how a recent final rule on Longer Combination Vehicles (LCVs) will affect Canadian operations, if at all.

Although the final rule — which establishes minimum training and qualification requirements for LCV driver-instructors operating in “interstate commerce” — doesn’t affect most Canadian carriers, the FMCSA’s definition of an LCV (any vehicle with more than one semi-trailer and a weight in excess of 80,000 lbs) potentially covers drivers operating B-trains in cross-border operations. Moreover, the rule as it’s written, makes it impossible for a Canadian driver to comply.

The FMCSA has since confirmed to both Today’s Trucking and the Ontario Trucking Association that it’s looking into the issue. When Today’s Trucking asked for clarification on how the rule would affect Canadian operations this past May, an FMCSA spokesperson responded by saying the agency was working on an amendment.

Since then, the OTA says it’s been in discussion with FMCSA officials, who recognize the difficulties that have been created with this regulatory change, and the agency confirmed it’s still considering a solution to the problem.

According to the rule, LCV training will consist of driving and non-driving activities, such as route planning and checking cargo and weight. Because LCV doubles and triples have different operating characteristics, FMCSA established different training courses for each vehicle group. The rule also establishes two types of LCV driver instructors, classroom instructors and skills instructors.

However, the FMCSA has proposed allowing certain drivers to substitute a good driving record and experience for the completion of the LCV driver-training requirements. The driver would have to provide the employing motor carrier with evidence that he or she had operated LCVs safely during the two-year period prior to application.

Carriers are placed in a very difficult situation, the OTA says. Compliance with the rules can only be detected at a compliance audit and, although it is unlikely that a carrier would be cited, it is recommended that carriers use what the FMCSA calls ‘common sense’ — something the OTA takes to mean that the carrier should be satisfied that the driver has the necessary knowledge to operate B-trains and that any training or testing is documented.

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