A serious trucker shortage already exists and is getting worse. Truck drivers must be fully trained before getting behind the wheel in order to reduce the risk of truck accidents. There are concerns trucking companies may begin to hire more entry-level workers with limited experience as older truckers retire and trucking companies are faced with fewer hiring options.
To ensure anyone who is eligible to drive a truck is actually ready to get behind the wheel, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is working towards making new rules for training requirements. The FMCSA published a notice of proposed rule making and opened up the rule for public comments. If the FMCSA decides to move forward on the rule, there will be new mandates imposed for entry-level driver training.
The process of promulgating trucking rules and regulations moves slowly, which means it will be three years before new training rules go into effect. Regardless of what the FMCSA requires, however, trucking companies need to be aware they can be held responsible for negligent actions of truck drivers on-the-job. If a trucker doesn't have proper training and causes a truck accident, the company which employs him can be sued. It is thus in the best interests of trucking companies to impose their own strict training requirements to limit liability and to reduce the risks of people being seriously hurt or killed.
New FMCSA Training Requirements Proposed
Under FMCSA's proposed new rule, all entry-level truck drivers would need to comply with specific training mandates before getting a Commercial Driver's License. Truckers whose licenses weren't active who want to renew their CDL will also have to comply with the new training rules, as will drivers who have CDLs already but who want to get additional endorsements.
The new entry-level training requirements will impose a mandate requiring truckers to complete their training with certain education provider's on FMCSA's approved list. The providers will be put on the list only if they embrace FMCSA's core curriculum and only if the providers are willing to provide certification to FMCSA about drivers who successfully complete the training.
The training course which is required to be taught is focused on four key areas: protections for whistleblowers who make reports of safety issues; driver training qualifications; hours-of-service rules imposing limits on time driving before rest breaks take place; and driver wellness including avoidance of excessive alcohol use and maintaining overall good health.
It remains to be seen if FMCSA will actually be able to take the next steps to make new rules requiring drivers to learn all of this important information from qualified providers. Whatever FMCSA does, however, trucking companies should ensure they are providing training and requiring sufficient training to ensure truckers do not cause truck accidents due to inexperience.