Federal safety regulators have proposed a set of comprehensive training requirements for entry-level commercial truck and bus drivers seeking to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL). The new rule would make commercial driving students in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and all U.S. territories undergo mandatory, comprehensive training.
The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking is the first step in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)’s plan to set national requirements for commercial drivers in training. The next phase will seek public comment on the proposed rules.
Under the proposal, applicants seeking a “Class A” CDL, which is necessary for operating a combination tractor-trailer type vehicle weighing 26,001 pounds or more, would be required to undergo a minimum of 30 hours of behind-the-wheel training from an instructional program that meets FMCSA standards, including a minimum of 10 hours operating the vehicle on a practice driving range.
The rules for applicants seeking a “Class B” CDL, which is needed for driving a heavy straight truck, such as a dump truck or box truck, school bus, city transit bus, or motor coach, would have to undergo a minimum of 15 hours of behind-the-wheel training, including a minimum of seven hours training on a practice range.
Drivers seeking to upgrade their CDL from a Class B to a Class A, or to obtain additional endorsements necessary for hauling hazardous materials, operating a tank truck, school bus, or pull double or triple trailers, will be subject to the entry-level driver training requirements. Any previously disqualified CDL holder would also have to undergo the same required training to reacquire a license.
The FMCSA did not propose a minimum number of hours that driver trainees must spend on the classroom portions of their study.
The FMCSA said the proposed rules reflect an “unprecedented consensus” of agency officials and more than two dozen stakeholders who worked together to define the rule. The effort came in response to a Congressional mandate imposed under the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act, which seeks to enhance highway safety.
“Well-trained drivers are safer drivers, which leads to greater safety for our families and friends on our highways and roads,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “With the help of our partners, [this] proposal serves as a major step towards ensuring that commercial vehicle drivers receive the necessary training required to safely operate a large truck or motorcoach.”