FMCSA proposes new rules for commercial drivers

Road users in North Carolina rely on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to ensure that bus and semi-tractor trailer drivers are qualified and properly trained. Large commercial vehicles handle very differently from passenger cars and light trucks, and becoming familiar with their controls and behavior is an important part of driver training. Current federal commercial driver's license rules have been criticized in some quarters because trainee drivers do not spend significant amounts of time behind the wheel in real-world driving situations, but changes to the regulations proposed by the FMCSA in early March would add this requirement.

The FMCSA proposal would see a new core curriculum introduced for commercial drivers featuring at least 30 hours of time behind the wheel combined with classroom sessions dealing with safety issues. Driver training will take place on both public roads and specially designed closed courses.

After submitting proposals, the FMCSA welcomes comments or suggestions from members of the public for a period of 60 days before seeking approval from the White House and the Department of Transportation. Once approval has been obtained, the measure will be published in the Federal Register. State agencies, commercial driver training companies and logistics firms will then have three years to prepare before the measures are implemented.

Many truck accidents involve some form of driver error, and measures designed to improve the skills of bus and truck drivers can only be good news for other road users. However, regulations alone cannot eliminate reckless behavior, and personal injury attorneys may file lawsuits on behalf of those injured in accidents caused by distracted, impaired, fatigued or poorly trained drivers.

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