FMCSA Announces Entry Level Driver Training Survey

On Friday, November 7, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) published in the Federal Register a notice and request for comment on a new information collection request the Agency is undertaking on entry level driver training. The Agency will survey recently licensed (within last three years) freight CDL drivers, including both drivers without hazardous materials endorsements and drivers with hazardous materials endorsements. Additionally, the Agency will survey motor coach and bus driver drivers who recently begun driving such vehicles.

The goal of the study is to provide FMCSA with a better understanding of the amount and type of total training drivers received, and its composition between training received before and after receiving a CDL. Results of the training survey data will be analyzed in relation to the safety performance data of the responding drivers available from two databases: the State-operated Commercial Driver's License Information System (CDLIS) and the Federally-operated Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS).

By way of background, in 1986 Congress passed the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act (CMVSA), which implemented the CDL program and it’s supporting information systems. The goal of the CDL program is to ensure that drivers of large trucks and commercial passenger vehicles possess the knowledge and skills necessary to obtain a CDL. The CMVSA directed the Agency to establish minimum Federal standards that the States must meet when licensing drivers required to have a CDL. The CMVSA of 1986 did not address the standardizing of entry level driver training. In 2004, following up on Agency reports, FMCSA issued a Final Rule for such entry level driver training, establishing that a driver must undertake on average 10 hours of training in order to obtain a CDL. However, the rule was challenged in court; the court determined FMCSA needed to give more attention to its previous research in establishing meaningful minimum CDL training standards, in particular with regard to behind-the wheel training requirements. In 2007, FMCSA issued a follow-on Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM), proposing revised entry level driver training standards for CDL drivers.

In 2012, MAP-21 required the Agency to expand the scope of the entry level driver training. In response to the Congress mandate, FMCSA held public listening sessions and requested recommendations from the Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee (MCSAC). This survey is the latest step in the development of this important rule.

The Agency plans to invite 82,207 drivers to participate in the survey, of which FMCSA estimates that 7,399 will respond.