By Tim Dollar
Keeping American drivers safe should be the top priority of anyone who is engaged in the legislation or regulation of American roads. As a truck crash attorney, I have seen tragedy befall far too many innocent families and worked to influence laws that prevent truck crashes. But still, these rules and regulations are only useful if we are training truck drivers to follow them.
In December of 2016, after delaying for 25 years following a mandate from Congress, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) finalized national entry-level standards for acquiring a commercial driver’s license (CDL). The rule officially went into effect in January of 2017. The proposed rule had gone through a procedure called “negotiated rulemaking” in which stakeholders from all aspects of the trucking industry worked together to suggest what elements the rule should contain. The negotiated suggestions for the rule included a minimum of 30 training hours behind-the-wheel that should be required for new commercial drivers; however, the final rule contains NO requirement for behind-the-wheel training. In addition, drivers and companies will not be required to comply with the updated standards until February of 2020.
Various safety groups, including the Truck Safety Coalition and Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, have spoken out about the failure to include a minimum behind-the-wheel requirement.
Despite the disapproval of safety advocacy groups, trucking industry groups like the American Trucking Associations, have applauded the rule.
All other modes of freight transportation (railways, air, maritime, and pipeline) have significantly reduced the number of injuries and fatalities in their respective industries. Not trucking.
So what do we take away from this information?
- If you disagree with any rules or regulations that are being passed or implemented, contact your state representative and voice your opinion.
- Understanding the legislation that governs the road can only make you a better driver, and being a better driver keeps you and other Americans safe.
If you or a loved one has already been in a truck crash, it is very important to contact an attorney immediately, before speaking to any representatives of the trucking company or its insurer.
Trucking continues to kill thousands of motorists in truck crashes every year, including between 600 and 800 truck drivers. Still, a prospective driver can obtain a CDL without having to spend any time in training behind-the-wheel. We can surely do better than this.