The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has rejected several requests for more time to comment on the notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to establish minimum training standards for entry-level drivers obtaining commercial driver's licenses. In the March 7, 2016, notice, FMCSA allowed just 30 days until April 6 for comments.
Although the agency normally would allow at least 60 days for such a major proposal, this particular effort resulted from negotiated rulemaking -- a process that brings together representatives of various interest groups to resolve conflicting issues regarding a regulation.
In separate letters to various parties seeking an extension of the comment period, FMCSA acknowledged that a negotiated rulemaking is not a substitute for FMCSA's responsibility to evaluate concerns but that the agency believes 30 days is sufficient.
The NPRM proposes training standards for new Class A and Class B commercial driver's license holders. In addition to first-time CDL holders, meeting the minimum standards would be required for current license holders seeking an upgrade, such as moving from a Class B to Class A license or getting an additional endorsement – hazardous materials, tank truck, double or triple trailers or passenger. A previously disqualified CDL holder seeking to reacquire a license also would have to demonstrate training to the minimum standards.
Under the proposal, applicants seeking a Class A CDL – required for operating a combination tractor-trailer 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 – required for operating a heavy straight truck (such as a dump truck or box truck) or a 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.
FMCSA's proposal does not specify any minimum requirement for classroom training.
Would-be drivers covered by the entry-level training requirements 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.
In general, military drivers, farmers, and firefighters would remain exempt from federal CDL requirements.
To comment on the NPRM or view others' comments, go to www.regulations.gov and search FMCSA-2007-27748.