The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is going ahead with its plan to negotiate the terms of a rule covering entry-level driver training.
The agency is opting for negotiations because it has not been able to reconcile the industry’s differences over such a rule. Carriers, driver groups, trainers, state agencies, safety advocates and insurance companies generally agree on the concept but cannot come to terms on how the rule should work.
In a notice scheduled for publication this week, the agency is proposing to establish an advisory committee representing all of the factions. It is asking for nominations of representatives from a wide range of industry interest groups, including the American Trucking Associations, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, the Teamsters union, state agencies, bus groups and Women in Trucking.
The agency intends to ask the committee to address training requirements including time behind the wheel, the costs and benefits of the rule, accreditation of schools and the possibility of a performance-based approach rather than prescribing how many hours the training should take.
The agency said it expects the committee to meet regularly between next February and June.
At the same time, the agency is working on a survey of newly licensed drivers concerning the relationship between their training and their safety performance.
Meanwhile, there is an outstanding legal action against the agency over this issue. Safety advocates and the Teamsters union have sued to force the agency to go ahead with the rulemaking.