The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced today that it will hold a “public listening session” early next month to solicit ideas and information on the issue of entry-level training for drivers of commercial motor vehicles.

The agency said it is seeking input on “factors, issues and data it should consider in anticipation of a rulemaking to implement the entry-level driver training (ELDT) provisions” in the current highway bill, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21).

According to the agency, Section 32304 of MAP-21 requires that FMCSA issue final ELDT regulations by October 1, 2013, which would establish “minimum” ELDT requirements for operators of CMVs.

Back in 2007, FMCSA published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) seeking public comment on enhanced ELDT requirements. The agency pointed out today that the ’07 NPRM proposed revisions to the standards for mandatory training requirements for entry-level operators of CMVs in interstate operations who are required to possess a CDL.

Since publication of that NPRM, FMCSA said it has completed its review of the public responses to the proposal and initiated new research concerning driver training.

The agency also said it has “begun exploring new alternatives for mining Motor Carrier Safety Management Information System (MCMIS) data and Commercial Driver's License Information System (CDLIS) data to attempt to assess the safety performance of new CDL holders compared to that of more experienced CDL holders.”

And in response to public comments, FMSCA said it “has reexamined the regulatory options presented in the 2007 NPRM as well as its estimates of the driver population who would be subject to the requirements. As a result, the agency has concluded that additional stakeholder input will be useful in determining the most appropriate path forward for an ELDT rulemaking [to be completed next year].

Trucking stakeholders are generally supportive of an ELDT reg “if it is a rule that makes sense for the industry and the educational institutions training drivers,” David Heller, director of safety & policy for the Truckload Carriers Assn., told FleetOwner.

“For that to happen,” he continued, “FMCSA will have to put in place a rule that will result not in drivers just trained to the CDL exam, but who are developed to be truly qualified to manage the real-world challenges faced when operating a truck out on the road.

“Quality training by an institution and the processes surrounding that are what FMCSA should be focusing on,” Heller added. “Then the ability to train a safe and sound driver who can adapt to the challenges on our highways will quickly result.”

FMCSA said it wants participants in the January 7th listening session “to indicate whether ideas presented are supported by research and data analyses, including cost/benefit considerations.”

The listening session will be held January 7th from 9-11 am and from 2-4 pm (EST) during the American Bus Assn. Marketplace meeting. The exact location for the session is: The Charlotte Convention Center, 501 S. College Street, Charlotte, NC 28202, (Tel: 704-339-6000) in Room 207 A and B.

The entire proceedings will be webcast as well. FMCSA said all comments will be will be transcribed and placed in its ELDT docket (Docket ID: FMCSA-2007-27748) for the agency’s consideration.

Along with the listening session, FMCSA is offering several other ways to provide comment on the ELDT rulemaking process:

The agency will post specific information on how to participate via the Internet on the FMCSA website at www.fmcsa.dot.gov/rules-regulations/topics/hos/HOS-Listening-Sessions.aspx.

Comments bearing the Docket ID FMCSA-2007-27748 may be submitted via these methods:

  • Federal eRulemaking Portal. Go to www.regulations.gov and follow online instructions for submitting comments.
  • Mail. Docket Management Facility; U.S. Dept. of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., West Building Ground Floor,Room W12-140, Washington, DC 20590-0001.
  • Hand-delivery or Courier. West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. (EST) Monday through Friday, except Federal Holidays.
  • Fax. 1-202-493-2251.