Training Standards for New Truck Drivers

FMCSA Proposes National Training Standards for Entry-Level Truck and Bus Drivers

March 4, 2016 – WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) today proposed a set of comprehensive national prerequisite training standards for entry-level commercial truck and bus drivers. The proposal applies to all those seeking to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL). The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) reflects consensus recommendations of a negotiated rulemaking committee comprised of FMCSA representatives and 25 stakeholders and responds to a Congressional mandate imposed under the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act. Public comment is sought as the next phase of the rulemaking.

“Well-trained drivers are safer drivers, which leads to greater safety for our families and friends on our highways and roads,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “With the help of our partners, today’s proposal serves as a major step towards ensuring that commercial vehicle drivers receive the necessary training required to safely operate a large truck or motorcoach.”

Applicants seeking a “Class A” CDL must have a minimum of 30 hours of behind-the-wheel training from an approved program. Training must also include a minimum of 10 hours driving the vehicle on a practice driving range. All training programs must meet FMCSA standards. The Class A CDL applies to vehicles weighing 26,001 lbs. or more.

A “Class B” CDL needs a minimum of 15 hours of behind-the-wheel training. It also requires an extra seven hours minimum of practice range training. The Class B CDL applies to heavy straight trucks, school buses, city transit buses, and motor coaches.

There is no proposed minimum number of hours that driver trainees must spend on classroom instruction.

“A diverse group of commercial motor vehicle stakeholders completed a tremendous amount of work, and that effort resulted in an unprecedented consensus,” said FMCSA Acting Administrator Scott Darling. “We’ve designated 2016 as our ‘Year of Partnerships’ and these comprehensive entry-level driver training standards exemplify our commitment to working closely with our safety partners, including state and local law enforcement, the safety advocacy community, and all other stakeholders to reduce crashes and to save lives.”

Training Standards

Mandatory, comprehensive training in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and all U.S. territories would apply to the following individuals under the proposal:

First-time CDL applicants;
Current CDL holders seeking a license upgrade (e.g., a Class B CDL holder seeking a Class A CDL) or an additional endorsement (necessary, e.g., to transport hazardous materials, operate a tank truck, school bus, or motorcoach, or pull double and/or triple trailers); and
A previously disqualified CDL holder seeking to reacquire a license.

These individuals would be subject to the proposed entry-level driver training requirements and must complete a course of instruction provided by an entity that:

Meets the minimum qualifications for training providers;
Covers the curriculum;
Is listed on FMCSA’s proposed Training Provider Registry; and
Submits electronically to FMCSA the training certificate for each individual who completes the training.

Under the proposal, military drivers, farmers, and firefighters would continue to remain generally exempt from the federal CDL requirements.

FMCSA’s Entry-Level Driver Training Advisory Committee (ELDTAC) met for six two-day negotiating sessions starting in February 2015 until reaching consensus in May 2015. The ELDTAC included FMCSA representatives and a cross-section of 25 representatives from motor carrier transportation, highway safety, driver training, state licensing, law enforcement, labor union, and insurance organizations.

For more information on entry-level driver training – click here.