Four groups have petitioned the U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to reconsider provisions of the Final Rule for Entry-Level Driver requirements, which the agency issued on December 7.
The final rule does not include a requirement for 30 hours of behind-the-wheel training for new drivers. Last March, FCMSA had included in its proposed rule a minimum of 10 hours of training on a “driving range” as well as an unspecified amount of time driving on a public road. The final rule requires no behind-the-wheel standard for student drivers, instead deferring to skills tests administered by state licensing agencies. The petition notes that under the new rule, the determination of whether a student driver has the skill set required to operate safely on public roadways is “entirely in the hands of the instructor.”
The petition was filed by Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), the Truck Safety Coalition and Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways on December 21. In it, the petitioners noted that:
“The performance standard in the Final Rule does not ensure that CDL applicants who can pass the state CDL skills test will spend any time actually operating a CMV on public roads with an experienced instructor encountering safety critical situations. This type of real-world training and experience that CDL candidates need, and that several bodies of experts have determined should be required, in order to enhance the ability of CDL applicants to operate a truck-trailer combination vehicle safely and to avoid crashes. Instead, the Final Rule does nothing more than ensure that future CDL candidates will acquire only the most rudimentary skill set needed to pass the most basic of maneuvering tests, as has always been the case, while depriving both future CDL applicants, and the traveling public of, developing better trained, more skilled novice CMV drivers.”