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Is New Truck Driver Training Adequate?

Revised federal regulations for training new commercial truck drivers are now in place, but will they help reduce the rising tide of fatal trucking accidents?

New federal commercial truck driver training regulations became effective February 7, 2022.  They are for those who are:

·         Obtaining a Commercial Driver’s License for the first time

·         Upgrading their CDL from Class B to Class A

·         Obtaining a CDL enhancement, called endorsements, to haul hazardous materials or drive a school bus or other vehicles with numerous passengers

So these revised training regulations don’t apply to most current commercial truck drivers.

Who Trains New Truck Drivers?

The biggest addition to the federal truck driver training rules applies to those who train the drivers.  A Training Provider Registry was introduced that now provides a list of individuals or entities that are certified to train commercial truck drivers.

Prospective new truck drivers must select a trainer from the federal registry.  Those who complete the federal training are entered into the database, confirming their status.

There is one noted caveat to the trainer registry.  Trainers are self-certified, meaning there are no outside checks to ensure trainers meet federally established qualifications.

So, for example, a trucking company can register as a certified trainer and train its own new employees, and then enter them into the Training Provider Registry as successfully meeting the federal requirements.

Another questionable aspect of the new commercial truck driver training rules is the lack of minimum required hours of driving time.

Prospective new truck drivers are required to undergo “knowledge” training. The topics include:

·         Basic operation

·         Safe operating procedures

·         Non-driving activities, e.g., adhering to federal Hours of Service Rules

The last topic is critical, as the Hours of Service rules dictate how long a truck driver can be on the road without resting.  These rules were implemented to prevent dangerously fatigued truck drivers from taking the wheel, as they are known causes of catastrophic truck crashes.

No Minimum Hours for Behind the Wheel Training

But other prominent causes are speeding truck drivers and truck drivers who swerve out of their lanes.  Yet the new federal rules do not require a minimum number of hours that entry-level truck drivers must practice driving on the road.

The only requirement is “Behind the Wheel” training.  Elements of this training include:

·         Basic vehicle control skills

·         Mastery of basic maneuvers

Behind the Wheel training does not have to be done on a public road.  And to pass this stage, a trainer only has to believe a prospective new commercial truck driver performed well enough to be graded “proficient”.

The number of fatal truck accidents continues to rise – including those caused by careless truck driver behavior.  The new truck driver training rules’ impact on reducing that number, unfortunately, may be limited.

If a family member was killed or seriously injured in a crash caused by a large commercial truck, speak with a truck accident attorney about holding accountable all those responsible.

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

Authored by Gray Ritter Graham, posted in Blog February 17, 2022