National Law Review, February 22, 2020:Although it had planned to institute universal training standards for entry-level truck drivers, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has announced that it will be delaying the training for two years.

The Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT) guidelines were intended to take effect on February 7, 2020, but the compliance date has been pushed back to February 7, 2022. According to the FMCSA, the delay will help establish important IT infrastructure that will act as a registry of compliant programs. However, the delay will also result in a continuance of under-trained entry-level truck drivers on the road, creating risk for travelers.

Currently, there are limited federal requirements for obtaining a commercial driver’s license. Although there are many schools that provide thorough training for new truck drivers, there is currently no federal oversight of the process or universal standards for training a new driver on necessary knowledge and skills.
Once the new rules take effect, training programs across the country will be required to cover a standardized curriculum for entry-level drivers. The curriculum will include basic vehicle operation, control systems, and dashboard instruments; pre- and post-trip inspections; backing and docking; distracted driving; roadside inspections; and whistleblower protections and procedures.

“Following a careful review of the public comments regarding the Entry-Level Training (ELDT) rule, FMCSA is extending the rule’s implementation for two years. This extension is reflective of the agency’s continued efforts to develop a secure and effective electronic trainer provider registry for the new rule. The agency remains committed to making the implementation of the rule as efficient and effective as possible,” FMCSA said in a statement.

“This is a setback for the whole industry,” says John Kearney, CEO of Advanced Training Systems LLC, whose company is a leading designer and manufacturer of virtual simulators for driver training, among other applications. “Trucking is facing a declining safety record. We are in need of efficient standards for entry-level truck driver training, and we need the government’s help to do it.” Kearney adds “Especially, under these unprecedented circumstances, the industry needs to make technology an essential, required part of driver training to ensure safety and continue the fight against COVID-19.”

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