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ATA Backs New Driver Training But Prefers Skills-based Standards

March 7, 2016 By: Trucking News Staff Tags: Fleet Management, News, Regulations, Safety

Leaders of the American Trucking Associations (ATA said they are pleased to see the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has proposed new entry-level driver training requirements, but the organization takes issue with one of the required elements.

“FMCSA has been working toward a strong entry level driver training standard since 1991 and we are pleased that they have released this proposed rule that will raise standards and improve safety,” said ATA President and CEO Bill Graves. “This rule does a good job of outlining the knowledge and skills a new driver should have before heading out on the road.

“But ATA is concerned that an arbitrary requirement centered on behind-the-wheel training hours distracts from a more important focus on performance and safety outcomes.”

The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking released late last week is the result of a negotiated rulemaking that ATA, along with other stakeholder groups, participated in. During that process, ATA repeatedly emphasized that demonstrating the ability to safely operate a commercial vehicle was far more important than the number of hours of instruction or practice a new driver received.

“Some prospective drivers may demonstrate proficiency before reaching an arbitrary minimum hours requirement, but more concerning is the possibility that achieving this time threshold will erroneously convey competence and possession of the skills needed to safely drive,” Graves said.

ATA Chairman Pat Thomas, senior vice president of state government affairs for UPS, said that while the proposed rule takes important strides toward ensuring that new truck drivers meet minimum training standards, “we are hopeful that the final rule will be more focused on performance outcomes.”