The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is withdrawing its proposed rule for entry-level driver training and will start over with a new proposal.

The agency explained in a Federal Register announcement that there are substantive problems with the proposal it has been working on since 2007.

Comments on the proposal and recommendations from an advisory panel led the agency to conclude that it has to start over again.

The proposal would have required both classroom and behind-the-wheel training for applicants for a commercial license.  

While most of the 700 comments on the proposal supported the concept of the training, views on the details were mixed, the agency said.

Some industry groups, for example, objected to the agency’s plan to require a specific number of training hours rather than a performance-based approach.

Also, there were objections to the agency’s plan to require driver training schools to be accredited by an agency recognized by the Education Department or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation.

Some said that the accreditation process would be too long and costly, and would not necessarily lead to better training.

In addition, some urged the agency to consider adding a graduated licensing system to the proposal, and others were concerned about how the behind-the-wheel portion of the training would be conducted.

Finally, the agency noted that last year’s highway bill added additional requirements to the regulation. It says the rule must establish a training regime that addresses safety performance and hazmat operations, and it must certify that applicants and trainers meet federal standards.

These add up to a significant change of direction for the rule, the agency said.

The agency does not spell out a schedule for a revised approach. It says it will solicit comments on what Congress ordered in last year’s highway bill. And it has two research projects under way on entry-level training, each looking at different aspects of the relationship between training and safety performance. 

Related Stories:

"On the Road" Blog: Mandatory Entry-Level Driver Training: Is There a Better Way?

FMCSA Advisory Panel Takes on Driver Training

CDL Schools Say Proposed Training Standards Would Make Driver Shortage Worse

Oliver Patton

Oliver Patton

Former Washington Editor

Truck journalist 36 years, who joined Heavy Duty Trucking in 1998 and has retired. He was the trucking press’ leading authority on legislative and regulatory affairs.