U.S. DOT proposes mandatory training rules

WASHINGTON — In a few years, individuals looking to obtain a new commercial driver’s licence (CDL) must complete both classroom and behind-the-wheel training from an accredited educational program or institution under a proposed rule announced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

Beginning three years after the effective date of a final rule, all applicants for a CDL or upgraded CDL would be required to provide a valid certificate from a truck driving program or institution accredited by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. The rule would not affect current CDL holders.

For a “Class A” CDL (tractor-trailers), the proposed rule would require a minimum of 76 hours of classroom instruction and 44 hours of behind-the-wheel training for a total of 120 hours. For “Class B” (large “box” or van trucks) and “Class C” CDLs (hazardous materials or certain passenger-carrying vehicles), the proposed rule would require a minimum of 58 hours of classroom instruction and 32 hours behind-the-wheel training for a total of 90 hours. The training curriculum includes CDL safety regulations, vehicle operation and safe operating practices.

In 2004, FMCSA implemented a training rule that focused on areas unrelated to the hands-on operation of a CMV, relying instead on the CDL knowledge and skills tests to encourage training.

These current training regulations cover four areas: Driver qualifications; hours of service limitations; wellness; and whistleblower protection. But in 2005 the DC Circuit held that the Agency was “arbitrary and capricious” in issuing the 2004 rule because it ignored an important conclusion of its own 1995 Adequacy Report, that behind-the-wheel training is essential.

The public is invited to comment on the proposed rule. Instructions are available at www.regulations.gov, docket number FMCSA-2007-27748.

The entire rule can be viewed at the link below:

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