By Matthew Wrobel, Foley Carrier Services
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has announced that it intends to perform a one-time survey of drivers in the industry regarding the level of training they receive from their employers and how that interacts with their entry-level driver training. FMCSA will use the results to develop regulations requiring entry-level driver training, as required by Congress.
The survey will focus on motor coach and truck drivers that have begun working in the industry within the past three years. According to a brief filed in the Federal Register recently, “The goal is to obtain a better understanding of the amount and type of total training they received, and its composition between that received before obtaining the CDL, and that received after obtaining the CDL.”
Entry-level driver training is one of those rare compliance issues where FMCSA is being encouraged to create regulations. Currently, the regulations do not mandate a specific amount of training time behind the wheel. Industry members and safety advocates point to that as an obvious hole in the safety culture FMCSA is charged with creating.
While the regulations do require a skills test, they do not specifically state a minimum amount of time spent training behind the wheel. Most drivers, driver organizations and safety advocates, including the Owner-Operator Independent Driver’s Association (OOIDA), the Teamsters and Public Citizen have been campaigning for a rule for years.
Gaining experience in a controlled environment, advocates argue, is the best way to prevent accidents caused by “rookie mistakes” and high turnover caused by drivers who did not appreciate the unique attributes of the truck driver lifestyle.
A website put together by OOIDA, truckersforsafety.com, explains the problem that they are looking to solve: “A good portion of the ‘truck driver training’ programs available are focused on making sure that the individual passes the CDL road test and not on giving the new driver the skills and knowledge to control their 80,000 pound tractor trailer.”