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FMCSA to propose new training for entry level truckers

Written by Steve Gursten Posted March 25th, 2015

Attorneys litigating truck wreck cases need to take a harder look at the driver’s training

truck driver training

The rules for driving commercial trucks are different and more stringent than those for drivers of passenger cars. After all, truck drivers are charged with immense responsibility. It takes a lot more physical and mental effort to helm a fully-loaded, 80,000-pound big rig.  The potential for disaster if a driver loses control is far greater as well.

And with a current high truck driver turnover rate as well as a truck driver shortage, the majority of truckers out there today are significantly greener than they were a decade or so ago. This shows no signs of slowing down, especially as the demand for trucking jobs grows and many commercial motor carriers find themselves under increasing pressure to put people behind the wheel.

Recognizing this, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) is creating new rules on minimum training standards for entry-level commercial truck drivers. This is a huge development, and attorneys who litigate trucking accident cases need to be aware of these new rules.

For the first time ever, the FMCSA is using a process called “negotiated rulemaking” to set the training standards. A 26-member advisory committee made up of safety advocates, government agencies and truck driving training school educators will be tasked with creating the language to ultimately be adopted by FMCSA and better train the new truckers.

Some of the things this newly-formed negotiated committee will examine include:

  • Minimum training requirements,
  • Length of classroom instruction and behind-the-wheel experience,
  • Accreditation versus certification of CDL training programs and schools, and
  • Curricula for passenger, property and hazardous materials carriers, instructor qualifications.

“Over the next 30 years, we’re going to be relying on trucks – and truckers – to move more than 40 percent more freight than they currently do,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in Occupational Health and Safety. “… this committee’s work will be critical to ensuring that commercial drivers are fully capable of operating their vehicles safely.”

Kudos to the FMCSA, for its effort to better equip new truckers with the proper training and experience before they get behind the wheel. Our attorneys hope this committee can eventually create stronger training rules that will untimely prevent accidents at the hands of inexperienced truck and bus drivers.

Steven Gursten Photo

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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