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Minimum Training Requirements for Entry-Level Commercial Motor Vehicle Operators

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government

Minimum Training Requirements for Entry-Level Commercial Motor Vehicle Operators

Anne S. Ferro
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
September 19, 2013


[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 182 (Thursday, September 19, 2013)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 57585-57587]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-22772]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

49 CFR Parts 380, 383, and 384

[FMCSA-2007-27748]
RIN 2126-AB06


Minimum Training Requirements for Entry-Level Commercial Motor 
Vehicle Operators

AGENCY: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), DOT.

ACTION: Notice of withdrawal.

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SUMMARY: FMCSA withdraws its December 26, 2007, notice of proposed 
rulemaking (NPRM) that proposed new entry-level driver training 
standards for individuals applying for a commercial driver's license 
(CDL) to operate commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) in interstate 
commerce. The Agency withdraws the 2007 proposal because commenters to 
the NPRM, and participants in the Agency's public listening sessions in 
2013, raised substantive issues which have led the Agency to conclude 
that it would be inappropriate to move forward with a final rule based 
on the proposal. In addition, since the NPRM was published, FMCSA 
received statutory direction on the issue of entry level driver 
training (ELDT) from Congress via the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 
21st Century Act (MAP-21) reauthorization legislation. Finally, the 
Agency tasked its Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee (MCSAC) to 
provide ideas the Agency should consider in implementing the MAP-21 
requirements. In consideration of the above, the Agency has concluded 
that a new rulemaking should be initiated in lieu of completing the 
2007 rulemaking.

DATES: The NPRM ``Minimum Training Requirements for Entry-Level 
Commercial Motor Vehicle Operators,'' RIN 2126-AB06, published on

[[Page 57586]]

December 26, 2007 (72 FR 73226), is withdrawn on September 19, 2013.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: If you have questions on this Notice 
of withdrawal, contact Mr. Richard Clemente, Transportation Specialist, 
FMCSA, Bus and Truck Standards and Operations, (202) 366-4325, 
MCPSD@dot.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background/General Issues Raised During Comment Period and Listening 
Sessions

    After the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals remanded the May 21, 2004 
final rule, titled ``Minimum Training Requirements for Entry Level 
Commercial Motor Vehicle Operators'' (69 FR 29384), to the Agency for 
further consideration, FMCSA published an NPRM on December 26, 2007, 
entitled ``Minimum Training Requirements for Entry-Level Commercial 
Motor Vehicle Operators'' (72 FR 73226). The Agency received more than 
700 comments to its proposal. Additionally, on January 7, 2013, and 
March 22, 2013, FMCSA held listening sessions on ELDT. While most 
commenters expressed support for the ELDT ``concept,'' they had 
divergent views on several of the proposed rule's key provisions.

Hours-Based vs. Performance-Based Driver Training

    Several industry organizations expressed opposition to the proposed 
mandate of a specific minimum number of training hours. Instead, these 
commenters support a performance-based approach to training that would 
allow an individual to move through the training program at his/her own 
pace. Essentially, a driver who demonstrated mastery of one skill would 
be able to move to the next skill. The driver would not have to repeat 
continually or practice a skill for a prescribed amount of time--2 
hours, for example--if the driver could master the skill in 20 minutes.
    Other commenters, however, did support a minimum hours-based 
approach to training. They stated that FMCSA must specify the minimum 
number of instructional hours in order to be consistent with the 
original Model Curriculum of the 1980s.\1\ Additionally, some 
supporters of an hours-based training approach believed that the 
Agency's proposal did not involve sufficient hours (particularly 
behind-the-wheel hours) to train a driver adequately. Finally, other 
commenters suggested a hybrid of the hours-based and performance-based 
approaches.
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    \1\ In 1985, FHWA issued the ``Model Curriculum for Training 
Tractor-Trailer Drivers'' (1985, GPO Stock No. 050-001-00293-1).
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    Several commenters asserted that by establishing a minimum number 
of hours required for training, the Agency would create a Federal 
standard that would eliminate certain Federal loan options otherwise 
available to students enrolled in driver training programs. They 
claimed that the U.S. Department of Education (ED) would refuse to 
authorize Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) or Direct Loan funding 
to programs more than 50 percent longer than the minimum 120- or 90-
hour programs for Class A and B/C CDL applicants proposed by the FMCSA. 
However, commenters contended further that if courses were to be capped 
at 180 or 135 hours--50 percent longer than the Agency's proposed Class 
A or B/C programs--to comply with one aspect of ED's regulations, they 
would then fail to meet the 300-hour minimum required to be eligible 
for FFEL and Direct Loan funding. One individual at a listening session 
disputed this claim. He said it was a misconception that training 
schools would not offer longer courses if drivers could not qualify for 
Title IV student funding.

Accreditation

    The NPRM proposed to require that all commercial driver-training 
schools be accredited by an agency recognized by either ED or the 
Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Most commenters opposed the 
accreditation process because they claimed it is a long and costly 
process that would not necessarily result in better training of the 
students because the accreditation is not ``program specific.'' In 
other words, the training institution may obtain accreditation, but the 
accreditation would not be specific to the driver training program's 
course content. They argued that accreditation might restrict the 
number of schools where drivers could receive training.
    Alternatives suggested included allowing training institutions to 
self-certify, subject to Federal or other oversight, or voluntarily to 
obtain 3rd party certification or accreditation. However, other 
commenters believed that even stricter control of training schools 
should be exercised by the Federal and/or State governments.

Passenger Driver Training

    Commenters from the motorcoach industry stated that they were an 
``afterthought'' in the NPRM. Specifically, they stated that there was 
no mention of the Model Motorcoach Driver Training Curriculum in the 
proposed rule. One motorcoach company asserted that its in-house 
training program is much more rigorous than the Agency proposal and 
that it continually tests and re-trains its drivers. Others believed 
that the proposed training program would have particularly adverse 
consequences for the motorcoach industry as few institutions offer 
training specific to that segment of the industry. Additionally, 
concerns were expressed that existing company training programs for 
entry-level drivers would cease as they would no longer be able to hire 
the entry-level drivers they train.
    The school bus industry, in particular, questioned its inclusion in 
the proposed rule. Commenters asserted that the safety record of school 
buses shows that the industry's own driver training, based on State 
requirements, is effective. Implementing the NPRM would increase the 
costs significantly for school bus operators with no demonstrable 
increase in safety. Furthermore, the proposed rule might exacerbate the 
school bus driver shortage.

Post-CDL Training

    Some NPRM commenters and others who participated in the ELDT 
listening sessions suggested that the Agency consider regulatory 
actions beyond what was proposed in the 2007 NPRM. For example, several 
individuals and organizations believe the Agency should assess the 
merits of implementing a graduated commercial driver's license (GCDL) 
system approach. This concept would involve placing limits on the 
operations of new CDL holders for certain periods of time until the 
drivers obtain enough experience to operate as solo drivers, without 
restrictions or limitation. For example, the GCDL approach would 
require that the new CDL holder work under the supervision of an 
experienced driver or mentor as part of a team operation before being 
allowed to drive solo. Other commenters stressed that their companies 
are doing continuous training/testing and that re-training of 
individuals should be required. As proposed, the 2007 NPRM would have 
required training before an individual obtained a CDL; the ``finishing 
training'' advocated by some commenters was not discussed.
    Participants in the listening sessions held earlier this year also 
raised concerns about the trainer/trainee relationship. Several stated 
that behind-the-wheel training, either pre- or post-CDL, requires that 
the trainer be in the passenger seat of the cab providing actual 
``hands-on'' instruction. Commenters cited specific instances of

[[Page 57587]]

new CDL holders being paired with an experienced driver, but on many 
occasions the experienced driver was resting in the sleeper-berth 
rather than training/mentoring the new driver. They believe that new 
CDL drivers should receive a minimum of 6 months of on-the-job, behind 
the wheel training, with the trainer required to ride in the passenger 
seat and provide coaching and mentoring rather than resting in the 
sleeper berth. In addition, commenters stated that trainers should meet 
minimum experience and knowledge requirements before being eligible to 
train CDL applicants.

MAP-21 Requirements

    The Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) 
Section 32304, ``Commercial motor vehicle operator training,'' amends 
49 U.S.C. 31305 to require the Agency to issue regulations to establish 
minimum entry-level training requirements for all prospective CDL 
holders. Section 32304 specifically mandates that the training 
regulations (1) Address the knowledge and skills needed for safe 
operation of a CMV, (2) address the specific training needs of those 
seeking hazardous materials and passenger endorsements, (3) create a 
means of certifying that an applicant for a CDL meets Federal 
requirements, and (4) require training providers to demonstrate that 
their training meets uniform Federal standards. The 2007 NPRM did not 
address endorsement-related training or the entry-level training of new 
intrastate CDL applicants that is now mandated by MAP-21; these 
additions would be a significant change of direction.
    After Congress enacted MAP-21, FMCSA requested that its Motor 
Carrier Safety Advisory Committee (MCSAC) consider the history of the 
ELDT issue, including legislative, regulatory and research background, 
and identify ideas the Agency should consider in moving forward with a 
rulemaking to implement the MAP-21 requirements. MCSAC issued its 
letter report in June 2013, which is available on the MCSAC Web site: 
http://mcsac.fmcsa.dot.gov.

Other Actions

    Currently, FMCSA is conducting two research projects to gather 
supporting information on the effectiveness of ELDT. Study 1 will 
randomly sample CDL holders who received their license in the last 
three years and were identified as recently employed as a CMV driver. 
This will be done using information from the Motor Carrier Management 
Information System and the Commercial Driver License Information 
System. The drivers' safety performance data from these two systems 
will be analyzed against the type and amount of training they received. 
Study 2 will gather information from various sources to identify the 
relationship of training to safety performance. The sources include: 
Carriers; CDL training schools; and State Driver's License Agency 
records for recently issued CDLs. This study will also examine the 
safety performance of drivers in two States that have regulations 
dealing with different aspects of CDL driver training.

FMCSA Decision To Withdraw the NPRM

    After reviewing the MAP-21 requirements, comments to the 2007 NPRM, 
participants' statements during the Agency's public listening sessions 
held earlier this year, and the MCSAC's June 2013 letter report, FMCSA 
has determined that it would be inappropriate to continue with the 
rulemaking initiated in 2007. The Agency believes a new rulemaking 
would provide the most effective starting point for implementing the 
MAP-21 requirements. A new rulemaking would provide the Agency and all 
interested parties the opportunity to move forward with a proposal that 
focuses on the MAP-21 mandate and makes the best use of the wealth of 
information provided by stakeholders since the publication of the 2007 
NPRM.
    In consideration of the above, the Agency withdraws the December 
26, 2007, NPRM. However, the rulemaking to carry out the MAP-21 entry-
level training requirement will solicit comments from all interested 
parties, including those who may wish to reiterate their previous 
remarks. That new rulemaking will be based on the results of the 
studies referenced above, public comments responsive to the statutory 
mandate, and the specific requirements of Sec.  32304 of MAP-21.

    Issued under the authority of delegation in 49 CFR 1.87.

    Dated: August 27, 2013.
Anne S. Ferro,
Administrator.
[FR Doc. 2013-22772 Filed 9-18-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-EX-P

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