New Trucking Regulations May Favor Quantity Over Quality
Truck drivers are not strangers to regulatory compliance. Given that their occupation sees them traversing many local and state jurisdictions while piloting large commercial vehicles, these drivers know that their line of work is subject to industry-specific guidelines developed to promote safer outcomes. But not all regulations have been met with complete approval by the trucking industry. Many drivers and managers are split when it comes to new regulations on training requirements for drivers. While lawmakers say mandates will accomplish the intended goal of making sure anyone who pilots a rig is qualified, many within the trucking field believe the new measures are a bit too arbitrary.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, an organization functioning under the US Department of Transportation, is in charge of regulating the trucking and commercial driving industries. By providing guidelines pertaining to everything from rest periods to weight limits, the FMCSA has a large impact on how easy it is to become established (or even start out) in the field. New regulations require any driver seeking a Class A CDL (required for operating tractor-trailers weighing 26,001 lbs. or more) to have at least 30 hours of driving experience behind the wheel in a FMCSA-approved program.
Drivers seeing a Class B license (required for operating garbage trucks and most buses) will need to log a minimum of 15 hours behind the wheel, in addition to 7 hours operating the vehicle on a practice driving range. While the American Trucking Association had advisors involved in the creation of these regulations, many voiced their disapproval for these mandatory time frames for training behind the wheel. While at first glance one may believe that these mandates could have positive overall effects on safety, experts in the industry don’t believe that the amount of hours a person has behind the wheel will determine whether or not they are a safer driver.
Many trucking companies pride themselves on a speedy but efficient training process that sees aspiring truckers get the training they need in a timely manner. ATA director P. Sean Garney said: “We are concerned that the agency adopted the committee’s recommendations, over ATA dissent, for an arbitrary requirement centered on behind-the-wheel training hours which distracts from a more important focus on performance and safety outcomes.” Time will tell if these regulations prove to be burdensome for companies, and whether or not revisions will come based on the somewhat mixed reception of mandatory time minimums on driver training.