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  • FMCSA Contemplates Entry-Level Training for Commercial Drivers

    Large commercial trucks are among the most dangerous road hazards. Even when operated in accordance with appropriate safety precautions, the colossal vehicles pose serious dangers to most motorists. An accident can result in damage, injury or death. In an effort to reduce the existing risks associated with large commercial vehicles, various safety advocates have challenged regulations regarding the certification of truck drivers, all in an effort to make roads safer.

    In late March 2013, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) hosted a public forum regarding its proposed entry-level driver training for commercial drivers. The agency has been formulating training proposals for more than 20 years. In the early 1990s, congress ordered safety regulators to begin drafting a training rule for commercial motorists. In 2004, a rule was created that would require new drivers to know basic information regarding the job. The information was supposed consist of knowledge beyond the skills necessary to pass the Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) exam.

    However, in response to the proposal, Advocates for Highway Safety challenged the limited rules, noting that the missing road-training requirement is a major shortcoming in driver safety. Subsequently, a court forced the agency to reevaluate its proposal. In 2007, another rule was proposed, which would mandate that anyone applying for a new or updated CDL graduate from an accredited or approved program that includes road training (in addition to classroom training). Last year’s highway bill requires the agency to arrive at a final regulation by the fall of 2013.

    Those opposed to the current proposal suggest that the new accreditation requirement would create several licensing barriers for new commercial motorists. For example, the accreditation standard would be a huge financial hurdle for training schools, increasing the cost and availability of training to students. Opponents add that this would be problematic — especially during a time of driver shortage among the industry.

    On the other hand, fatal tractor-trailer accidents cost Americans more than $20 billion each year. TruckAccidents.org reports nearly 13 percent of the 15.5 million trucks in the country are semi trucks, 18-wheelers and tractor-trailers. Furthermore, almost 100 percent of all semi accidents result in at least one fatality. With this in mind, maybe it is time to ramp up safety precautions for the industry.

    Only time will reveal the final ruling on the matter. Hopefully, the FMCSA will create mandates that improve the overall safety of commercial motorists and other drivers. If you have been harmed in a serious truck accident, contact a qualified personal injury law attorney in your region. A lawyer can help you assess your case and evaluate your options for recovery.

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