The trucking industry is the backbone of the United States economy and workforce. There are currently 3.5 million drivers on the road and millions more working in warehouses, terminals, shipping offices and more. In total, it employs one out of every seven Americans and our roads and ports move over 11 trillion dollars of freight annually. However, it is also one of the most dangerous careers in the United States. In 2015, there were a total of 35,092 traffic fatalities in the US. With these staggering figures in mind, it becomes very easy to see why driver safety training is of paramount importance.
In December 2016, the Federal Motor Safety Administration, or FMCSA, accounted a Final Rule which established nationwide training standard for all new truck or bus drivers. These new regulations apply to any professional wishing to seek their Commercial Driver’s License, or CDL. It focuses on new drivers to ensure that we establish a solid, knowledgeable workforce of drivers to ensure that our roads can become safer in the future.
The new rule established baseline minimum qualifications for all new drivers; these new rules and regulations for formed through a consensus decision between 25 stakeholders and representatives from the FMCSA. Per the FMCSA, the new rules were established to help improve road safety for all; additionally, they aim to help improve efficiency overall within the industry in the hope that this will help reduce fuel consumption and performance of all drivers.
These new regulations would require all new CDL applicants to demonstrate proficiency in knowledge of their on-road and off-road training. This proficiency will need to be demonstrate through behind-the-wheel tests on public roads, as well off classroom exams.
Unfortunately, these new regulations do not establish any minimum requirements for hours of behind-the-wheel training. They only require that the driver can demonstrate proficiency, the amount of time this takes is still flexible. However, this leaves more room for interpretation by the trainers. They must give their final seal of approval before the applicants training can be completed and a CDL issued. With that said, a knowledgeable responsible trainer will hopefully lead to more knowledgeable and responsible drivers.
On January 23, 2017 President Donald Trump issued an order to halt all transportation regulatory boards within the government from making new regulations. Per Chief of Staff Reince Priebius, this allows for regulations related to “health, safety, financial or antinational security” to continue and take precedence. It is unclear at this time how the Final Rule and other driver safety regulations will be impacted. For the moment, the future of continued regulations and safety advancements within the trucking industry are unclear.