We’ve all seen large big-rigs, buses, and other commercial motor vehicles on our highways and may have been tempted at one time or another to call the 800 number on the back and comment on the driver’s abilities. You may also assume that the driver must have gone through some form of training before getting behind the wheel or that the federal government regulates commercial drivers.
The federal government does regulate commercial motor vehicles and their drivers, but not as much as you might think. Although a 1995 study showed that entry-level driver training should include behind-the-wheel instruction, the federal regulations governing commercial motor vehicle drivers still cover only these four areas: (1) driver qualifications; (2) hours of service limitations; (3) wellness; and (4) whistleblower protection. In other words, there is currently no federal requirement that commercial motor vehicle drivers have any behind-the-wheel instruction.
The capability and competence of commercial motor vehicle drivers is a serious safety issue. Motor vehicle accidents involving commercial motor vehicles injure thousands of people each year. Over 90,000 people were injured in crashes with large trucks or buses in 2009 alone. http://ai.fmcsa.dot.gov/CarrierResearchResults/PDFs/CMVFacts/CMVFacts-Dec2010-02082011.pdf.
In an effort to make the country’s highways safer, Congress enacted the Moving Ahead in the 21st Century Act last year. Among other things, the Act aims to:
http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/about/what-we-do/MAP-21/Map21.aspx. To meet these goals, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is preparing to make rules that would implement the entry-level driver training requirements in the Act and has asked members of the public to submit information it should consider. A listening session will be held March 22, 2013 in Louisville, KY. Go to www.fmcsa.dot.gov one week before the listening session to learn how to participate by internet. Or, written comments may be submitted electronically through www.regulations.gov or by regular mail to:
Docket Management Facility U.S. Dep’t of Transportation 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE West Building, Ground Floor, Room W12-140 Washington, DC 20590
The final regulations should be issued by October 1, 2013. The full notice is available at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-02-28/pdf/2013-04487.pdf.
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