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FMCSA proposes national training standards for entry-level drivers

March 7, 2016
The US Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has proposed a set of national prerequisite training standards for entry-level commercial truck and bus operators seeking to obtain a commercial driver license (CDL).

The US Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has proposed a set of national prerequisite training standards for entry-level commercial truck and bus operators seeking to obtain a commercial driver license (CDL).

This notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) reflects consensus recommendations of a negotiated rulemaking committee consisting of FMCSA representatives and 25 stakeholders and responds to a Congressional mandate imposed under the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act. Public comment is sought as the next phase of the rulemaking.

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“Well-trained drivers are safer drivers, which leads to greater safety for our families and friends on our highways and roads,” said US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “With the help of our partners, today’s proposal serves as a major step towards ensuring that commercial vehicle drivers receive the necessary training required to safely operate a large truck or motorcoach.”

Under the proposal, applicants seeking a “Class A” CDL—necessary for operating a combination tractor-trailer type vehicle weighing 26,001 lbs or more—would be required to obtain a minimum of 30 hours of behind-the-wheel training from an instructional program that meets FMCSA standards. This includes a minimum 10 hours of operating the vehicle on a practice driving range.

Applicants seeking a “Class B” CDL—necessary for operating a heavy straight truck, school bus, city transit bus, or motorcoach—would be required to obtain a minimum of 15 hours of behind-the-wheel training, including a minimum of seven hours of practice range training.

Mandatory, comprehensive training in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and all US territories would apply to these individuals under the proposal:

•First-time CDL applicants

•Current CDL holders seeking a license upgrade or an additional endorsement

•A previously disqualified CDL holder seeking to reacquire a license

These individuals would be subject to the proposed entry-level driver training requirements and must complete a course of instruction provided by an entity that:

•Meets minimum qualifications for training providers

•Covers the curriculum

•Is listed on FMCSA’s proposed Training Provider Registry

•Submits electronically to FMCSA the training certificate for each individual who completes the training

Under the proposal, military drivers, farmers, and firefighters would continue to remain generally exempt from the federal CDL requirements.

Click here to view the NPRM. Members of the public will have the opportunity to review the NPRM and submit comments to the docket for 30 days after its publication in the Federal Register.

Click here for more information on entry-level driver training.

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