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NewsTruckingTrucking Regulation

FMCSA takes heat for driver training delay

A prominent truck safety group warns that regulators’ decision to further delay new training rules for entry-level drivers could increase the number of fatal highway crashes.

Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (AHAS), which lobbies on behalf of truck accident victims and their families, blasted the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) for once again extending the compliance deadline for its Entry Level Driver Training (ELDT) rule. The rule, which establishes new minimum training standards for those applying for a commercial driver’s license (CDL), was supposed to go into effect Feb. 7, 2020, but the FMCSA is pushing back the deadline to 2022.

The decision, announced Nov. 26, came after a “careful review” of public comments, FMCSA stated. “This extension is reflective of the Agency’s continued efforts to develop a secure and effective electronic trainer provider registry for the new rule. The agency remains committed to making the implementation of the rule as efficient and effective as possible.”

But AHAS contends that the extension reflects more a lack of commitment at FMCSA.

“Congress first instructed [regulators] back in 1991 to do a rule on this, so they’ve been working on it for decades and just can’t seem to get it right,” AHAS general counsel Peter Kurdock told FreightWaves.

Kurdock, a member of FMCSA’s Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee, pointed out that the specific issue that has caused the most recent delays — the inability to correctly transfer electronic training certificates between state and federal IT systems — has been known and supposedly worked on for at least four years.

“When we were going through the rulemaking process in 2015, this problem was identified by virtually every stakeholder as an issue that the agency was going to have to pay particular attention to in order to make sure they could get it done in time and get the rule in place,” Kurdock said.

“There really is no reason this should be delayed any further. If this rule were in place, we’re very hopeful that safety outcomes would improve. There’s a direct concern with public safety when you’re not making sure every truck driver who gets behind the wheel is properly trained. We see the real-world results of the agency’s inaction. Its’ tragic and sad.”

Kurdock pointed to the latest statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration showing fatalities involving large trucks increased in 2018.

The National Safety Council (NSC) agreed it was critical that truck drivers receive proper training. “NSC would like this training to occur without delay, given roadway deaths remain stubbornly high yet 100% preventable,” said NSC spokesperson Maureen Vogel.

The American Trucking Associations (ATA) has been concerned about the rollout of the ELDT rule since the latest iteration was scheduled to go into effect in 2017. The group has worried that the agency wasn’t “on track” to get the rule in place despite assurances to the contrary from FMCSA.

When the agency proposed in July a partial two-year compliance extension that would apply only to state driver licensing agencies, ATA said delaying parts of the ELDT rule “could have a significant impact on the enforcement and the effectiveness of the rule’s intended goal,” and therefore, along with many state governments, it supported a two-year delay of the entire rule to avoid confusion.

UPS [NYSE: UPS] earlier this year applied for an exemption from two requirements of the ELDT rule claiming that they would affect its ability to train its drivers and hurt its long-haul driver hiring, but the exemption has not yet been granted.

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John Gallagher, Washington Correspondent

Based in Washington, D.C., John specializes in regulation and legislation affecting all sectors of freight transportation. He has covered rail, trucking and maritime issues since 1993 for a variety of publications based in the U.S. and the U.K. John began business reporting in 1993 at Broadcasting & Cable Magazine. He graduated from Florida State University majoring in English and business.

16 Comments

  1. The delay is silly. The A T A if concerned about safety would put effort into trying to get training standards in place like Ontario Canada has done. A study in Canada said higher training standards will save more lives than E-LOGS if overtime time is brought in. Both the A T A and the C T A in Canada want cheaper truck drivers and E -logs to control use of company trucks for personal reasons .

  2. It’s not truck drivers. It’s the people in cars. Unsafe lane changes, no blinkers, speeding up to get in front of trucks then slowing down. We are in our trucks driving. People jump in there cars to run down the road, not really aware what is around them. Short commute drivers are a really big problem.

  3. Check the stats! The vast majority of accidents
    with injuries, between commercial vehicles and
    passenger vehicles is the FAULT OF THE
    PASSENGER VEHICLE.
    y’all get off it. Leave the truckers alone so we can
    do our jobs.
    How about all you big motorhome drivers start
    keeping a log book and your hours controlled by
    The Gov’t. Bet that would work well! Lol

  4. It is amazing that safety continues to be controlled by large companies instead of government. Here is a prime example…
    We allow unsafe, minimally trained drivers the ability to get hired quicker and replace qualified tenured drivers by pushing back mandate. Though mandate continues to limit small carriers the ability to keep safe drivers, due to HOS regulations.

    The only winner here are large trucking companies that want to hire anyone with a heartbeat that they can pay minimum wage earnings. While our professional truck drivers continue to be replaced. So I agree people, be careful on the roads in 2020.

  5. In addition to the others comments… Nothing is 100% preventable in this industry. A month ago a person was driving a Burro and cart,,, then 3-4 weeks later their driving a Semi. Foreigners aren’t the only problem but how can you expect someone who has no previous comprehension of Road rules or signage to operate any vehicle properly! In addition to the training issue,,, Companies like CR England apparently have 6-7 Students in the truck with one Trainer. Although they may get rotated how much training is really absorbed?? At Sage Trucking school the videos are from the 1970’s and severely outdated along with the curriculum statute’s given by the FMCSA & DOT. There is more book time than Student driving time. That’s as ignorant as having an ASE Mechanic get his full Certification online then give him the opportunity to work on Semi’s or Cars legitimately. Is it worth risking you or your family and friends lives to someone getting their “hands on” training in a Semi after only 40-50hrs of true seat time?! Not in my book. The needs of the Industry should not override the needs for SAFETY. I’ve been an OTR Driver for almost 16 years now and accident free (tickets – yes of course!) And the ELD has only made things worse. This is not a 9-5 job nor for the timid. 75% of the current Wheel holders need to go back to McDonald’s!!

    1. Agreed. Todays trucking is harder amd so far advanced that people are distracted not only in semis but in automotive applications. Until the people making these rules get out from under and behind a desk, they will not get what true Trucking industry is.

  6. We should be concentrating more on training young drivers of personal vehicles. They should be subjected to the same training as CDL drivers, and personal vehicles should also be subjected to random inspections by State Police. We would see a change in driving habits or an outcry of how unfair DOT check points really are.

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