FMCSA to Delay Trucking Rule Updating Entry-Level Driver Training Requirements by as Much as Two Years

Until recently, the compliance date for the upcoming “Minimum Training Requirements for Entry-level Commercial Motor Vehicle Operators” was set for Feb. 7, 2020. The Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT) rule will establish updated minimum training requirements for individuals obtaining or upgrade commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs) and for anyone trying to obtain hazardous materials, passenger or school bus endorsements. New requirements include:

  • Entry-level drivers will need to complete a knowledge-based program and a behind-the-wheel course.
  • The only entities that will be able to provide entry-level driver training will be listed on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association’s Trainer Provider Registry.
  • Driving instructors must have had an active commercial driver’s license for at least two years before training others.

Now, an anonymous Department of Transportation official has revealed that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA) has plans to release a Federal Register notice delaying the ELDT rule by a period of up to two years. The DOT official claimed that the formal notice will be released before the end of 2019, adding that the delay is a result of “the failures of the states aligning their systems with the federal system.” As of this writing, a Federal Register Notice has still not been released. A partial delay of the ELDT rule was announced in July, after federal officials reported an information system glitch. While the partial delay would have impacted training providers’ obligation to upload training information about specific drivers, the new delay announcement is set to postpone the rule in its entirety.

How Will a Delay in the ELDT Rule Impact Safety?

According to Don Lefeve, President of the Commercial Vehicle Training Association, the delay could be bad news for safety: “there are still a lot of substandard programs that will remain in existence… the reality is there’s going to be no formal requirement for training.” Therefore, the anticipated safety benefits that would come with more thorough training requirements will not be seen until after the rule is officially put in place.

Of course, it makes sense that better training for entry-level commercial drivers would come with road safety benefits. Just like car drivers, poorly trained, inexperienced truckers are much more likely to cause wrecks than those with more experience. One U.S. Department of Transportation report revealed that truckers with under five years of experience are 41% more likely to cause a crash than commercial drivers who have been on the road for five years or longer.

Though the FMCSA hasn’t officially broken the news, it is nonetheless alarming to hear of the impending ELDT delay.  It is crucial that large commercial vehicle drivers are well-prepared to drive large trucks and have the specialized knowledge needed to navigate roads in adverse conditions. Without that proven knowledge, those who share the roads with truckers will be most at-risk, as 82% of fatalities in crashes involving large trucks were not occupants of the truck.

If you or a loved one were seriously injured in a crash involving a tractor trailer, contact the attorneys at Murray & Murray Co., L.P.A. in Ohio today for exemplary legal service.