Judges hear challenge to 10-hour, no-drive training

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U.S. Appeals Court judges recently heard arguments on a new national rule for commercial drivers that sets minimum training requirements at 10 hours, none of which must be behind a wheel.

In May 2004, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued a rule stipulating that driver training must include topics such as driver wellness, hours-of-service and rules on whistleblower protection. It does not demand road experience.

The petitioner’s brief was filed April 22 by Public Citizen on behalf of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety. The AHAS petition was consolidated with petitions filed by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and the United Motorcoach Association.

A three-judge panel in Washington heard the case against the FMCSA on Sept. 13, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association reported on its website.

“The government says its rule does meet driver training needs,” said OOIDA attorney Paul Cullen Jr., but OOIDA argued there was no connection “between what the government provided in its final rule and any of the information that it developed in its earlier study.”

In 1991, Congress ordered the creation of a training rule after a number of truck crashes in which poorly trained commercial drivers were faulted.

An earlier model curriculum from the FMCSA’s predecessor, the Federal Highway Administration’s Office of Motor Carriers, advised 320 instructional hours for truckers.