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FMCSA Proposes New Commercial Vehicle Driver Training Rules

Casper, Meadows, Schwartz & Cook

Human error plays a role in most fatal motor vehicle accidents, and crashes involving buses or other heavy commercial vehicles can have particularly high death tolls. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is tasked with ensuring that the nation's commercial vehicle drivers are qualified, and the agency has proposed rule changes designed to ensure that those holding a commercial driver's license are properly trained. The FMCSA announced the proposals on March 4, and they would require novice drivers to spend 30 or more hours behind the wheel before earning a CDL.

The next step in the regulatory process will see the FMCSA accept comments from the general public for a period of 60 days. Once any modifications prompted by these comments have been made, the proposal will be sent to the Department of Transportation and the Office of Management and Budget for approval before being published in the Federal Register. Logistics companies will then have three years to make preparations before the new driver training rules are implemented.

The FMCSA proposal includes a new driver curriculum that features both practical and theoretical components. The behind-the-wheel training will include a minimum of 10 hours on specially designed driving ranges and supervised driving on public roads. Novice commercial vehicle drivers will also spend time in the classroom learning about the various aspects of vehicle safety.

The families of those killed in fatal truck accidents may file wrongful death lawsuits against the drivers involved when they have behaved negligently, but there are situations where this type of litigation could be initiated against their employers instead. Trucking companies may act negligently by not properly maintaining their vehicles or failing to correct known dangerous conditions, and they may also face civil actions when accidents are caused by unqualified drivers.