Trucking companies are responsible for actions their drivers take on-the-job. As a result of the potential for liability if driver negligence causes a crash, trucking companies should make sure drivers are fully trained and well-qualified. Unfortunately, a shortage of truck drivers is growing worse by the day and many trucking companies may be forced to hire entry level drivers with limited experience.
As qualified and experienced truckers retire, there are likely to be many more truckers on the road who have limited real-world knowledge and whose skills may not be as developed as they should be.
To try to ensure these truckers are equipped with the knowledge they need to avoid truck accidents and are provided with the training they need to be safe drivers, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is proposing new stricter training standards.
FMCSA's New Proposed Rule Would Impose Stricter Training Requirements
FMCSA recently published a notice of proposed rule making and opened the proposed rule for public comments. The proposed rule will create stricter training mandates for entry-level truck drivers and bus drivers getting a commercial driver's license (CDL) for the first time. Drivers who want new endorsements will also need to comply with new stricter mandates on required training, as well as any drivers who allowed their CDL to lapse and who are reapplying after having an inactive commercial license.
The new training mandates will require all of these truckers to take an entry-level training course provided by certain qualified training professions. Anyone who applies for a CDL would need to complete the course from a provider who is included on an FMCSA Training Provider Registry. Training providers, to be included on the registry, would be required to embrace FMCSA's entry-level curriculum and would be required to give FMCSA a certificate for all truckers who complete the required training.
The core curriculum which is included in the entry-level training course includes details on the hours of service which truckers may drive before a break; the qualifications CDL drivers are required to have; the importance of best practices for health and safety including the need to avoid excessive use of alcohol; and details on protections for whistleblowers who report safety issues.
When FMCSA tries to make a rule, the process is a lengthy one. The rule, if finalized, would not go into effect and impose the new training mandates for at least three years. This means until this time, truckers do not have to undergo this essential additional training before getting a CDL.
While FMCSA may not have strict training requirements, companies which hire commercial drivers should make sure every driver has the training, knowledge, and experience to avoid collisions. Trucking companies can be held accountable for crashes their drivers cause, so it is in the company's best interests not to hire anyone who does not have the skill to drive safely.