National training standards rule becomes law

After being delayed for five months by regulatory reviews ordered by President Donald Trump, a rule setting national training standards for new truck drivers has become law.

Truck trailer with student river written on the sideEffective as of June 5, the rule gives carriers, trainers and others in the industry until February 2020 to comply with the rule.

The rule will apply to applicants who receive their CDLs on Feb. 7, 2020, and after.

In addition to establishing a core curriculum required to be taught to all CDL applicants and driver trainees, the rule institutes two other key changes:

  • Required behind-the-wheel training and a registry of FMCSA-approved driver trainers from which CDL applicants must receive training.
  • Trainers, including carriers who have their own training facilities, must meet certain criteria and be certified by FMCSA to join the registry’s rolls.

Though the reforms received broad support by key stakeholders — and much of the rule was developed by the industry itself —  FMCSA’s final version of the rule has drawn criticism for lacking a behind-the-wheel training time minimum. The agency’s original proposal called for a minimum of 30 hours of behind-the-wheel training, including course time and on-road time. It ultimately removed the 30-hour minimum, which trucking lobbyists have urged the agency to reestablish.