White House clears training proposal, considers another

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is expected to propose soon that new drivers who will operate vehicles that require a commercial driver’s license receive mandatory behind-the-wheel training. The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approved a notice of proposed rulemaking on Nov. 29, clearing the document for publication in the Federal Register.

Separately, FMCSA on Thursday, Dec. 13, submitted for OMB review a proposal that would require a commercial learner’s permit (CLP) as a pre-condition for a CDL. That proposed rule also would revise CDL knowledge and skills testing standards and implement fraud detection and prevention initiatives at state driver licensing agencies, as required by the SAFE Port Act of 2006.

The proposal regarding behind-the-wheel training responds to a December 2005 ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that a May 2004 rule on minimum training standards was inadequate because it did not require any training in the commercial vehicle. That rule, which has remained in place, requires classroom education for entry-level drivers in four areas: medical qualification, hours-of-service rules, wellness, and whistleblower protection. After years of inaction on the minimum standards, FMCSA had issued the May 2004 regulations as part of a settlement of a lawsuit brought by safety advocates.

Details of the two proposals will be withheld until they are published in the Federal Register.