The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), part of the U.S. Department of Transportation, has announced new training updates for truck drivers to go into effect in 2016. The FMCSA formed an advisory committee in late 2014 to examine minimal training requirements and determine the duration of classroom sessions and behind-the-wheel training. The committee also weighed the difference between “accreditation” and “certification” of commercial driver’s licenses, and planned to examine instructor qualifications as well.
According to research from the U.S. Department of transportation, of the 3,536 occupant fatalities in crashes involving trucks in 2013, 1,755 of those were the occupants of light or large trucks. 1,438 were occupants of passenger cars, and the remaining were occupants of buses, motorcycles, and other vehicles.
Even in recent days, several major truck crashes have been reported, including a tractor-trailer losing control on an overpass in Maryland and crashing onto the parkway below—the driver did not survive. Another recent incident in Syracuse saw a driver crash his truck into a bus and resulted in multiple people being injured. In this case, the driver was following too closely.
At the state level, The Ohio State Highway Patrol has launched a program aimed at cutting down on truck crashes. Road Watch 100, launched on October 7, will be focused on reducing the number of commercial vehicle related crashes to fewer than 100 by 2020.
The meeting to determine new training for truck drivers was prompted by the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Legislation (MAP-21), which Obama signed into law in 2012, and which requires the FMCSA to create new regulations for driver training, including certification systems. The legislation also requires instructors to appropriately demonstrate that their training meets the set standards. MAP-21’s purpose is to improve and streamline the nation’s surface transportation program.
The FMCSA started discussing the implementation of new entry level driver training rules in August of 2014, and in December formed a formal committee to create the new regulations. The updates themselves have been formatted in the first half of 2015 and are expected to go into effect in 2016. The new requirements will affect anyone applying for a CDL to operate commercial vehicles pursuant to 49 CFR 383.5. Anyone considering applying for a commercial driver’s license should pay close attention to the upcoming announcements regarding these training updates. The new rules should be published before the end of the year.