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FMCSA to upgrade communication on new-driver training

Agency plans to provide further guidance as driver training compliance date approaches

Driver trainers asked for more FMCSA to be more proactive on new rule. (Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

The trucking industry’s top safety regulator plans to step up its communications with state agencies and training schools before next year’s compliance date for new entry-level driver training (ELDT) requirements.

In a final rule to be published on Wednesday formalizing the Feb. 7, 2022, extension date for implementing the new regulation, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said it “plans to provide further guidance as the compliance date approaches.”

The ELDT rule, which sets minimum standards for general knowledge and behind-the-wheel training, was scheduled to go into effect in February 2020 after an initial delay from 2017. But the FMCSA delayed the rule’s compliance deadline by two years to give the agency more time to develop the rule’s Training Provider Registry (TPR) and more time for state driver licensing agencies (SDLAs) to modify their IT systems to coordinate data with the TPR.

“This extension is necessary so that FMCSA can complete the IT infrastructure to support the TPR, which will allow training providers to self-certify, to request listing on the TPR and to upload the driver-specific ELDT completion information to the TPR,” FMCSA stated in the final rule. “Completion of the TPR technology platform is also necessary before driver-specific ELDT completion information can be transmitted from the TPR to the SDLAs.”

In Wednesday’s notice, the FMCSA confirmed that the extension date applies to all requirements established by the ELDT final rule, including the date by which:

  • Training providers must begin uploading driver-specific ELDT certification information to the TPR.
  • SDLAs must confirm that applicants for a CDL have complied with ELDT requirements prior to taking a specified knowledge or skills test.
  • Training providers wishing to provide ELDT must be listed on the TPR.
  • Drivers seeking a CDL or endorsement must complete the required training as set forth in the ELDT final rule.

After announcing in November 2019 that it would be extending the compliance date by two years, the Commercial Vehicle Training Association, which represents truck driver training schools, said FMCSA should “make greater efforts” communicating to the industry to avoid confusion over IT interfacing requirements, particularly among state agencies. “Stakeholders need more information on the specific progress of the [TPR] in order to regain trust that the FMCSA will meet its statutory obligations in a timely manner,” CVTA wrote in comments filed in 2020. FMCSA said in Wednesday’s notice that it is considering CVTA’s recommendations.

In the meantime, CVTA President and CEO A. Bailey Wood, who took over the position earlier this year, has been helping prepare truck driver training schools for the new regulation.

“The first issue in terms of the association’s priorities is implementation of the [ELDT] rule and making sure the states are ready for it as well as the industry,” Wood told FreightWaves in March. “We’ve had several webinars and are planning to hold more. We’ll be reaching out to the truck driver school industry and make sure they’re up to speed.”

Click for more FreightWaves articles by John Gallagher.

John Gallagher

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.