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FMCSA wants to improve training standards for entry-level truck and bus drivers

Written by Steve Gursten Posted April 29th, 2016

Applicants seeking a “Class A” CDL  would be required to obtain a minimum of 30 hours of behind-the-wheel training


The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) hopes to make sure new commercial drivers are fully prepared to safely navigate the roadways. The agency recently proposed a set of national prerequisite training standards for entry-level commercial truck and bus operators seeking to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL).

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, including a minimum of 10 hours of operating the vehicle on a practice driving range.

Applicants seeking a “Class B” CDL – necessary for operating a heavy straight truck (such as a dump truck or box truck) or a school bus, city transit bus, or motor coach – 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.

There’s no proposed minimum number of hours that driver trainees must spend on the classroom portions of any of the individual curricula.

Mandatory, comprehensive training in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and all U.S. territories would apply to the following individuals under the proposal:

  • First-time CDL applicants.
  • Current CDL holders seeking a license upgrade (e.g., a Class B CDL holder seeking a Class A CDL) or an additional endorsement (necessary, e.g., to transport hazardous materials, operate a tank truck, school bus, or motor coach, or pull double and/or triple trailers).
  • 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 the minimum qualifications for training providers;
  • Covers the curriculum;
  • Is listed on FMCSA’s proposed Training Provider Registry; and
  • Submits electronically to FMCSA the training certificate for each individual who completes the training.

Our attorneys are behind this safety initiative on behalf of the FMSCA. In our experience litigating serious truck wreck cases, we’ve seen far too many crashes caused by bus drivers and truckers who are not properly trained or don’t have enough experience behind the wheel.

But it’s also important for the agency to recognize that many preventable truck crashes occurring on our roads today are at the hands of unqualified truck drivers who actually have experience. These truck drivers have caused accidents, are on drugs, have serious medical conditions, and/or are more willing to break the law at the behest of their safety directors, who prioritize profits over public safety. This is an immense trucking safety crisis that also must be acknowledged, so programs, further training, and stiffer punishment for truck companies who ignore the FMSCRs, can be established to prevent even more crashes.

Public comment will soon be accepted as the next phase of the rulemaking. For more information, click here.

Related info:

FMSCA to propose new training for entry level truckers

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About Steve Gursten

Attorney Steven Gursten is president of the Motor Vehicle Trial Lawyers Association and past president of the American Association for Justice Trucking Litigation Group. He has been named a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Leader in the Law" for his efforts to prevent truck accidents and promote national truck safety. Steve was also a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Lawyer of the Year" for a record settlement in a truck accident case. He has received the top reported truck accident jury verdict and top reported truck accident settlement in Michigan for multiple years, according to published year-end compilations of all jury verdicts and personal injury settlements by Michigan Lawyers Weekly. He has been named a "Top 50 Super Lawyer," by SuperLawyers, is listed in Best Lawyers in America, and has been awarded an AV-rating by Martindale-Hubbell, which is the highest rating for legal ability and ethics. Steve speaks to lawyers throughout the country on truck accident litigation. He is a founding member of the Truck Accident Attorneys Roundtable, head of Michigan Auto Law, and has dedicated his legal career to making our roads safer.
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