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Inadequately Trained New Truck Drivers on the Road

Nearly one out of every four commercial truck drivers says they received inadequate training when they started work.

That’s per a recent survey conducted by Stay Metrics, a company that provides training tools to the trucking industry.  The private research (“First Impression Survey,”), made available last December, purports that 24% of big rig drivers feel their orientation training was lacking.

Some of this orientation deals with company-specific policies.  But a large portion of the inadequate truck driver training has to do with federal rules and regulations, including those designed for promoting safety and reducing catastrophic tractor-trailer accidents.

So trucking companies may not be providing the proper training to new commercial truck drivers.  But the federal government recently announced a decision that may allow unsafe, improperly prepared truckers on the road.

Federal Training Minimums for New Truckers

Until 2017, there were no federal standards for training new commercial truck drivers. That year, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration – the federal agency that oversees the nation’s trucking industry – finalized its Entry-Level Driver Training rule.  It was the first-ever set of minimum guidelines for truck driver training.

The rule was supposed to take effect February 7 of this year.  When the FMCSA announced the rule, officials said that, among other benefits, this training for new 18-wheeler drivers would reduce the number of people killed in truck accidents on highways.

These minimum training rules generally would apply to new truckers responsible for:

  • Rigs with  a gross combination weight rating of 26,000 pounds or more
  • Commercial vehicles designed to transport 16 or more passengers, including the driver
  • Trucks carrying hazardous materials

However, the FMCSA last month announced it is delaying that rollout date a full two years, until February 7, 2022.

And those finalized rules, now suspended for 24 months, are a watered-down version of what the FMCSA initially sought.

Actual Driving Experience Scrapped for New Truck Drivers

The new federal truck driver training requirements originally called for entry-level truckers to spend 30 hours practicing behind the wheel.  This would have included 10 hours actually driving the 18-wheeler in traffic.

But this low bar was opposed by trucking concerns and their lobbyists.  So that portion was deleted in the adopted rule. When the Entry-Level Driver Training rule goes into effect two years from now, new truckers won’t have to spend a day behind the wheel to be properly trained – just as it is today.

Under the federal rule, all training will be done in the classroom prior to new truckers applying for the commercial driver’s license.

Bookwork for entry-level truckers is fine, but it shouldn’t be the only required training.  Especially since it’s been shown the driver error – speeding, inattentiveness, loss of control of the rig, among other careless actions – has been shown to be the leading cause of serious truck crashes.

Unprepared and careless commercial truck drivers are dangerous.  Just as culpable are the companies that knowingly put them behind the wheel and send them on their way.

If you were seriously injured or had a family member killed in a crash with a commercial truck, speak with a truck accident lawyer about your legal rights to just compensation for your losses.

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisements.

Authored by Gray, Ritter & Graham, P.C., posted in Blog February 28, 2020