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US Driver Training Rule Published

FMCSA has issued its long-awaited entry-level driver training proposal, which calls for a minimum of 30 hours of training with “demonstrated proficiency” behind the wheel, along with an unspecified amount of classroom time.

The federal standards for commercial, entry-level driver training (ELDT) was published in the Federal Register this week, reports Fleet Owner.

FMCSA’s proposal includes new training standards for individuals applying for an initial CDL, an upgrade of their CDL1 (e.g., a Class B CDL holder seeking a Class A CDL), or a hazardous materials, passenger, or school bus endorsement for their license. (Military drivers, farmers, and firefighters are generally excepted from the CDL requirements in part 383, and they are excepted from this proposed rule, FMCSA notes.)

The curricula generally are subdivided into theory and behind-the-wheel (BTW) (range and public road) segments.

There is no proposed minimum number of hours that driver-trainees must spend on the theory portions of any of the individual curricula. The NPRM does propose that Class A CDL driver-trainees must receive a minimum of 30 hours of BTW training, with a minimum of 10 hours on a driving range. Driving on a public road would also be required, and Class A CDL driver-trainees may fulfill this requirement by either driving 10 hours on a public road, or by driving 10 public road trips (each no less than 50 minutes in duration).

And “irrespective of the number of hours of BTW training,” the training provider must not issue the training certificate unless the student “demonstrates proficiency” in operating a commercial vehicle, according to media reports.

“The NPRM proposes that instructors maintain significant flexibility, within the total number of hours required for BTW training, to allot more or less time to specific elements of the training according to the instructor’s evaluation of the trainee’s demonstrated performance of required skills,” the notice states.

Additionally, the NPRM proposes that a CDL holder who has been disqualified from operating a CMV must successfully complete refresher training.

The proposed compliance date for this rule is three years after the effective date of the final rule. This phase-in period would also allow time for the driver training industry to develop and begin offering training programs that meet the eligibility requirements for listing on the TPR, the NPRM states.

Members of the public will have the opportunity to review the NPRM and submit comments to the docket for 30 days following its publication in the Federal Register.

Discussions on how the U.S. proposal, if enacted as written, would affect Canada-US commercial licence reciprocity agreements are expected in the coming months between provincial government officials and industry stakeholders such as CTA.

CTA, along with its sectoral council, Trucking HR Canada, has embarked on a project to lay the foundations for mandatory entry level training for truck drivers by updating existing National Occupational Standards, supporting curriculum development, and exploring various accreditation models.

In Ontario, meanwhile, the OTA continues work with the province on designing its own mandatory entry-level training standard built on “competency-based testing.”

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