For the past few decades, attempts to implement federal standards for entry-level drivers have been in vain.
Recent Congressional heat may change a few things. The Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee has increased pressure on the FMCSA to put new driver regulations back on the administration’s agenda—and the FMCSA is approaching the suggestions seriously.
The issue has been grandfathered from year to year, so the result won’t take place overnight. The FMCSA must first recognize how to create a viable safety regulation that includes a realistic and enforceable new driver mandate.
The administration is hoping to ring in the new year (and the answer to that question) by opening its ear to the public. The FMCSA will be holding a public listening session in January in order to petition ideas for the entry-level driver training regulation.
The federal government is soliciting feedback explicitly on “factors, issues and data it should consider in anticipation of a rulemaking to implement the entry-level driver training (ELDT) provisions” into the reauthorized federal transportation bill, MAP-21. The current bill was implemented in October 2012, and highlighted three major safety initiatives:
- Raise the bar to enter the industry and operate on our roads.
- Hold motor carrier and drivers to the highest safety standards to continue operations.
- Remove the highest risk drivers, vehicles, and carriers from our roads and prevent them from operating.
Section 32304 of MAP-21 requires that the administration issue final ELDT regulations by October 1, 2013 in order to establish a proper safety oversight process.
As the agency noted, “In the early 1980s, the…predecessor to the FMCSA determined that there was a need for technical guidance in the area of truck driver training. Research showed that few driver training institutions offered a structured curriculum or a standardized training.”
In 2007, the FMCSA published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) seeking public comment on enhanced ELDT requirements. The NPRM ultimately proposed revisions to mandatory training requirements for entry-level operators who are required to possess a certified driver’s license.
Since publication of that NPRM, the FMCSA has said it “has reexamined the regulatory options presented in the 2007 NPRM…as a result, the agency has concluded that additional stakeholder input will be useful in determining the most appropriate path forward for an ELDT rulemaking [to be completed next year].” The administration hopes that participants will “indicate whether ideas presented are supported by research and data analyses, including cost/benefit considerations.”
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