The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has finally addressed the issue of behind-the-wheel training for entry-level commercial drivers.

In a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) published in the Federal Register December 26, 2007, the agency calls for the addition of hands-on training to its mandatory requirements for new CDL drivers.

According to the NPRM, new drivers would be required to “successfully complete specified minimum classroom and behind-the-wheel training from an accredited institution or program.” States will not issue CDLs to anyone who does not have proof of this training.

The proposed rule would apply to anyone applying for a new or upgraded CDL three years after the effective date of the final rule. Drivers who currently possess a CDL, or who obtain one within that three-year period, will not be affected.

Eligibility for a Class A (tractor-trailer) CDL would require 44 hours of behind-the-wheel training and 76 hours of classroom instruction.

The deadline for comments is March 25, 2008. Comments can be submitted online at Refer to Docket ID Number FMCSA-2007-27748.