The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has proposed a new rule on federal training requirements that would apply to novice commercial truck and bus drivers.
Under the proposal, truck driver applicants who seek a Class A CDL, which is the license needed to operate a tractor trailer that weighs 26001 pounds or more, would have to obtain at least 30 hours of training behind the wheel from a driver training program that meets strict FMCSA standards. This would require at least 10 hours of operating the truck on a practice driving range.
Applicants who want to obtain a Class B CDL, which is needed to operate a dump truck, box truck, school bus or city transit bus, would have to get at least 15 hours of behind the wheel training and seven hours on a practice driving range.
Major trucking groups generally support the new proposed rule, but the trucking lobby is concerned that there is too much focus on behind the wheel training time and not enough on performance and safety outcomes.
Our Virginia trucking accident attorneys are pleased to see that there is increasing focus on truck driver safety. Ensuring that beginning truck drivers have received enough behind the wheel training on a training course should lead to safer drivers and fewer accidents.
The Virginia Commercial Driver’s Manual has a strong focus overall on truck driver training, such as on pre-trip inspections, inspection during the trip and also after trip inspections. But clearly, not all truck drivers follow the rules. We represent many families whose loved ones have been killed by reckless truck drivers. If there is a stronger focus on truck driver safety at the federal level, hopefully lives will be saved.
We once had a $21 million settlement that involved a truck driver who rear ended our clients, leading to severe brain injuries for one of their children, and other serious injuries for the second child. It is possible that the truck driver just fell asleep behind the wheel. Could better training have prevented this tragedy? We think it is possible.