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FMCSA’s long-term focus: updated commercial trucker requirements

Few people — and certainly no driver or other occupant in a passenger vehicle in California or elsewhere across the country — would deny that safety in the commercial trucking industry is a constant and pressing concern.

Indeed, virtually every accident involving an 18-wheel rig, tractor trailer or other large truck makes that immediately apparent, given the repercussions that invariably result from a commercial truck crash.

Safety regulators from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration have long been focused on reducing the frequency of accidents featuring large trucks and the attendant carnage associated with them.

One focal point of their efforts to accomplish that aim has been driver education, with safety officials endorsing this decidedly simple proposition: better trained drivers foster improved safety outcomes on state and federal roadways.

To figuratively and literally drive home that enhanced safety agenda, the FMCSA just last week published a new proposed training rule. If ultimately enacted as a final promulgation, it would require new drivers — as well as drivers seeking commercial license upgrades — to complete a materially revised battery of both behind-the-wheel and theoretical training initiatives.

The so-called Entry Level Driver Training (ELDT) program stresses a driver’s broad familiarization with subject matter ranging from vehicle instrumentation and inspection to hours-of-service mandates, fatigue awareness and truck maintenance. The program’s tandem behind-the-wheel prong incorporates both driving-range maneuvers and a number of hours spent on public roads.

Would-be government enactments take time, of course, with the ELDT program being no exception. The current proposal must now proceed through a public comment period and ultimately garner the approval of both the United States Department of Transportation and the White House Office of Management and Budget. Following that, an additional three years must elapse before the rule becomes final.

And then, adherents believe, the nation’s roads will become materially safer.

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