Reviewing the FMCSA’s Proposed Rule on New Driver Training

New drivers, dust off your notebooks and sharpen your pencils. A new rule proposal from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is set to be published concerning new driver training. If put into effect, the regulation will provide a standardized driver curricula that must be satisfied to earn the privilege of driving over-the-road.

According to the CCJ, the new driver training standards have cleared the White House and will be officially published, albeit at the DOT’s discretion. The rule will create a cohesive set of standards that new truck drivers will have to surpass in order to obtain a Class A or Class B CDL license. Those who wish to drive passenger carrying vehicles, hazmat, and school buses will have a separate set of curricula.

The Federal Minimum Standards for CMV Entry-Level Driver Training (the “syllabus” if you will) was created by the Entry Level Driver Training Advisory Committee, which is comprised of drivers, motor carrier and operator associations, regulators, and other industry stakeholders who met several times to create the coursework.

The core curricula for the Class A CDL, for example, includes several sections. There is a section that provides a certified curricula for drivers (what I will call the “Classroom Work”) and a Behind-The-Wheel training requirement of 30 hours, a minimum of 10 of those hours spent on non-public roads, and a minimum of 10 hours spent on road trips. The Classroom Work will include written and instructional training on the basic operation of the CMV, the FMCSRs, inspections, road and traffic conditions instruction, driving techniques, safe operating procedures, night driving, speed management, and the list goes on. Students take numerous “units” on all of these subjects and more, with the idea that successfully completing certain units will allow the student to advance into more sophisticated principles and eventually obtain what I would guess to be a doctorate degree on the subject.

Critics voiced concern for the 30 hour requirement for the Class A CDL, citing that setting the initial hours requirements will pave the way for increasing those hours requirements when it has yet to be shown that training by hours-behind-the-wheel will produce a more effective driver than by other performance standards.

From a litigation standpoint, successful training from a “FMCSA-certified” driver training program might help in showing driver qualification and aptitude, but whether it is worth the cost – or should I say tuition – remains to be seen.

This article was written by Lesley Hall, JD, MBA, associate attorney at Roberts Perryman PC. Lesley focuses her practice on Transportation and Logistics as well as Trucking Litigation. Additionally, Lesley is third generation of a trucking family.


Roberts Perryman has been a leader in transportation defense for over 50 years with offices in St. Louis and Springfield, MO and Belleville, IL.

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