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Driver training rule finally confirmed

After three delays to allow for a review, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has allowed the final rule on minimum standards for entry-level commercial driver’s license (CDL) training to take effect. The rule, which was published in the final weeks of the Obama administration, was originally scheduled to take effect February 6. However, in response to a government-wide Trump administration mandate to review all last-minute regulations issued by the Obama administration, FMCSA delayed the effective date three times with the last postponement ending June 5. However, compliance is not required until February 7, 2020. Although stakeholders have been struggling with the adoption of minimum standards for driver training for more than 25 years, the final rule was largely non-controversial, largely because FMCSA had used a regulatory negotiation process to strike a compromise. Even so, that compromise and the proposed rule based on it were not universal. The American Trucking Associations dissented from part of the negotiated settlement and opposed the portion of the rule as initially proposed it in March 2016 that would have set a minimum number of hours of behind-the-wheel (BTW) training. However, the final rule dropped the minimum hours requirement in favor of a requirement that applicants seeking a CDL demonstrate proficiency in knowledge training and BTW training on a driving range and on a public road, with training obtained from an instructional program that meets FMCSA standards. The change won over ATA, but it drew a joint petition for reconsideration from Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Truck Safety Coalition, Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association. In one of his final acts as FMCSA administrator, Scott Darling denied the petition on January 19. The driver training rule establishes minimum training standards for individuals applying for:

  • A first-time CDL

  • An upgrade of a CDL -- i.e., from Class B to Class A

  • Or a first-time endorsement for hazardous materials, passengers or school bus.

FMCSA's rule prescribes a program of instruction and requires that the training be provided by an entity that is listed on FMCSA's Training Provider Registry. FMCSA will submit training certification information to state driver licensing agencies, which may administer CDL skills tests only after verifying the certification information. For complete details on the driver training rule's provision, click here.

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