Since FMCSA proposedto give state licensing agencies additional time to comply with their portion of the new Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT) rules, there’s been discussion among industry stakeholders about whether FMCSA should delay the entire training rule (and not just the state licensing agency portion). Remarkably, members of the public submitted 54 comments to FMCSA on the issue. Most of the comments suggested FMCSA should delay the entire rule. A quick STC review of these comments uncovered the following:
- Several states, including CA, MN, MO, OR, and VA, supported a delay of the entire rule to allow time to sort out IT systems and prepare to fully enforce the rule; and
- A coordinated commenting campaign, seemingly orchestrated by school bus driver interest groups, to urge a delay of the entire rule.
The primary concern of the school bus groups is the “confusion” a partial delay might cause. What confuses us at STC is how the likely safety improvements realized by requiring driver training schools to instruct to a new and higher standard would outweigh a training school’s inability to transmit driver training certificates to FMCSA and state agencies. It seems these school bus interests have also convinced several school districts around the U.S. to weigh in on this “confusion.” But, unless they’re also operating a driver training school, which most are not, school districts have exactly zero new responsibilities under the new rules. If a new driver received his or her CDL after February 6, 2020, the school district could assume the driver completed ELDT. Drivers the driver obtained his or her CDL prior to February 6, 2020, there’s ELDT is not required.
The bottom line is that partial implementation, as proposed by FMCSA, will improve safety by requiring driving training schools to train to a standardized curriculum developed under a rare industry consensus. Hopefully, FMCSA will not succumb to pressure to delay the entire rule and forgo the safety improvements in order to prevent “confusion.”