A federal rule proposed on Dec. 26 would force new interstate truck drivers to complete classroom and behind-the-wheel training before they’re allowed to receive a commercial license.
The proposal would require truck drivers to receive 120 hours of training, including 44 hours behind the wheel, from an accredited program before they would receive a license. The comment period ends on March 5.
Even though almost 5,000 people were killed in truck accidents in 2006 and 106,000 were injured, the American Trucking Association, the trucking industry’s lobbying group, opposes the rule, Bloomberg News reports.
However, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association not only supports the rule, the organization believes it should be even more rigorous. Todd Spencer, the executive vice president of the organization told Bloomberg News that under the current standards: “There is no training required whatsoever to drive a 40-ton vehicle.”
That concern is echoed by safety groups. Gerald Donaldson, senior research director for the nonprofit, Washington, D.C.-based Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, remarked in an interview with Bloomberg News:
“They get cousin Jake to show them how to operate the rig. Then they learn by doing.”
The push for more training is supported by the 1995 “Adequacy Report” that concluded truck drivers weren’t trained properly. In fact, only 9 percent of motor carriers offered sufficient training, the report indicated.
Because crashes involving tractor trailers are often deadly, and no motorist should have to share the road with an inexperienced driver trying to control an 18,000-pound vehicle, this rule should be viewed as the bare minimum for highway safety.