The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is taking another swing at a driver training rule, this time suggesting negotiations to resolve details that sidelined an earlier proposal.
At issue is the agency’s seven-year effort to come up with standards for entry-level driver training. A year ago the agency pulled its proposal because of disagreements over how it should work, even though there was general agreement with the concept.
Now the agency is proposing a negotiated rulemaking. It has hired a “convener,” Richard Parker of the University of Connecticut School of Law, to see if agreement is possible among carriers, driver groups, trainers, state agencies, safety advocates and insurance companies.
Parker will interview the interested parties and assess the possibility of agreement. The agency will use his report to determine whether or not to proceed with negotiations.
If the agency decides to go forward, it will invite representatives of these interests to collaborate on a draft of a proposed rule. If they can do that, the draft would be posted for public comment.
The negotiation will have to resolve differences over basic details such as whether training should be measured by hours or by performance.
Other issues are how driver training schools should be accredited, if there should be a graduated licensing program and how the behind-the-wheel portion of the training would be conducted.
In addition, the 2012 highway bill, MAP-21, requires the agency to establish a training regime that addresses safety performance and hazmat operations, and it must certify that applicants and trainers meet federal standards.
Comments on the negotiated rulemaking approach are due by September 18.