The Teamsters National Training Director is applauding a federal court decision ordering the federal government to rewrite its rule setting the standards for driving training programs.
“It is long past the time for our country to seriously consider education and training for CMV (commercial motor vehicle) operators,” said Mark Johnson, the Teamsters National Training Director. “With a nationwide driver shortage, alarming driver turnover in the nonunion sector and retirements in the union sector, quality training of new drivers becomes critical to public safety and driver supply.”
In 2004, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued a rule requiring CMV operators to be trained in only four specific areas—hours of service, health and wellness, medical qualifications and whistleblower protections. None of these have anything to do with the skills necessary to safely operate a CMV.
A coalition of highway and auto safety organizations sued the agency arguing the federal government should have including CMV driver education and training as part of its requirements using curriculum based on its many years of research and the standards set by the industry.
On December 2, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that FMCSA “abandons the recommendations of the Model Curriculum.” The court did not overturn the current rule, but did send it back to FMCSA for “further rulemaking,” indicating that it must include over-the-road training as part of any new regulation.
The “Model Curriculum,” developed by the Department of Transportation in 1985, addressed CMV driver education and training topics directly related to driving skills, with a heavy emphasis on skills and techniques necessary to safely operate a heavy truck.
Shortly after the Model Curriculum was published, groups representing the motor carrier, truck-driver training, and insurance industries, including the Teamsters Union, formed the Professional Truck-Driver Training Institute (PTDI). The Institute develops standards for training truck drivers, and it certifies private training organizations that meet or exceed its recommendations. None of these criteria was contained in FMCSA’s current rule.
The court also said the FMCSA “completely ignores the study’s emphasis on practical, on-the-road training” in the rule. This comment refers to the government’s 1995 study entitled “Assessing the Adequacy of Commercial Motor Vehicle Driver Training.” The study found that the heavy truck, motorcoach, and school bus sectors were not providing adequate driver training. It also confirmed in the study a general agreement that the Model Curriculum represents an adequate content and approach for training truck drivers and used the Model Curriculum as the starting point in defining “adequate training” for heavy truck drivers.