No FMCSA response yet to driver training suit

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has until May 23 to respond to a lawsuit challenging its entry-level truck driver training rule.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, the United Motorcoach Association and the non-profit Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety filed challenges this past summer in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. The groups wanted a review of the rule. Early this year, the court ordered the groups to make their arguments as one brief, which was filed April 21.

The FMCSA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The FMCSA’s final rule contradicts earlier agency statements and “fails to meet the 1991 congressional mandate to deal with driver training as it relates to safety,” said OOIDA President and CEO Jim Johnston.

“In the proliferation of regulations over truck drivers in the last five years, it is a gross oversight that no mandatory training exists to teach someone how to drive a truck as a condition for obtaining a CDL,” Johnston said.

OOIDA stated that before issuing the most recent hours-of-service rule, the FMCSA told Congress that entry-level driver training should include a minimum of 320 instructional hours, including more than 92 hours of protected off-street driving, as in a driving range, and 116 hours of street driving.

The final rule, however, requires a mere 10 hours of training that includes instruction in hours of service, wellness and whistleblower protection as well as driving, OOIDA said.

Whereas the FMCSA formerly classified commercial drivers as entry level if they had less than five years of experience, the final rule classifies as entry level only interstate drivers with less than one year’s experience, OOIDA said.

After the FMCSA files its response with the court, the petitioners will have until June 6 to reply. A three-judge appeals court panel will hear the case, but no oral arguments have been scheduled yet.