The Department of Transportation (DOT) released the final rule on the Entry-Level Driver Training rule. The rule essentially establishes a core curriculum that new truck drivers will be required to learn. They will also be required to go through 30 hours of behind-the-wheel training. Finally, the rule outlines a minimum level of qualification for instructors, tests, vehicles and more. All this information would be used to create a truck driving trainer registry.
While some argue this is an unnecessary measure, something like this has been in the works for a long time, and industry players from all sides have waded in on the matter. Let’s dig a little deeper.
The proposed rule is set to thoroughly outline how classroom and practical training should go.
New truck drivers would be required to learn:
- The basics on driving the truck
- Operating the controls
- Reading the instruments
- Pre- and post-trip inspections
- How to safely back into a dock
- Hours-of-service regulations
The training will also require a minimum of 10 hours driving on a range and either 10 hours on public roads or 10 trips at 50 minutes a piece, again, on public roads.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has estimated that the 10-year cost of the rule will ring in at just a little over $5.5 billion. This cost considers carrier, driver, trainer and state agency costs.
Digging deeper into the estimated costs, it looks as though the bulk of the program costs will be carried by the truck drivers themselves. By 2020 these costs are estimated to ring in at around $27 million dollars. By 2029? Almost $30 million.
Still, the FMCSA defends these numbers by saying that the rules perceived benefits will outweigh the high price tag, though they do admit some of those benefits are indirect. As an example, they cite that better training will lead to safer, more efficient driving techniques. This will result in a reduction in fuel consumption and lower environmental costs.
They point to trained truck drivers saving the industry $75 million in fuel costs by 2020 and almost $180 million by 2029. Lower maintenance and repair costs could bring in almost $45 million by 2020 and more than double that by 2029. Indirect benefits could include less severe crashes.
Voices at the Table
Fortunately, the FMCSA underwent a thorough negotiation session with the American Trucking Associations (ATA) and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA). They also consulted major training school and trucking safety advocacy groups. Finally, they took public comment before submitting their text to the Office on Management and Budget.
The fact is, the DOT has been working on something like this for over 30 years. They began the process in 1985, as a part of the OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.
The question now is how the final rule will impact trucking’s bottom line. From the truck driver to the motor carrier and state level, what kind of impact will this have on trucking operations? With the final rule set to land any day now, you can bet we’ll be back here telling you all about it here at the QuickTSI blog.