FMCSA establishes training standards, curriculum for new truck operators

| December 07, 2016
FMCSA has established new driver training standards.

FMCSA requires entry-level, CDL-seeking drivers to be taught a core curriculum and to receive behind-the-wheel training. The rule does not affect CDL holders who receive their CDL before the February 7, 2020, compliance date.

New training standards for entry-level truck operators have been finalized by the U.S. Department of Transportation and will become requirements on February 7, 2020. The rule officially becomes law February 6, 2017, allowing a three-year grace period for carriers, trainers and others to prepare for the February 2020 compliance date.

The DOT’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will publish December 8 the new rule establishing the training standards, which encompass both a core classroom curriculum and behind-the-wheel training requirements.

The rule also establishes a registry of FMCSA-approved trainers that entry-level truckers must use to receive their training. The rule establishes separate standards for Class A and Class B CDL trainees, as well as requirements for endorsements like hazmat and passenger.

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The rule has received industry-wide support, from major trucking lobbyists like the American Trucking Associations and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association to safety advocate groups. The rule only applies to CDL applicants who have not received their CDL by February 7, 2020.

As a key departure from the agency’s March 2016-issued proposed rule, FMCSA nixed the requirement that truckers undergo 30 hours of behind-the-wheel training before being eligible to receive their Commercial Driver’s License. The rule still requires behind-the-wheel range training and public road training, but it does not require a minimum number of hours. Trainees successfully complete their behind-the-wheel training when “all elements of the curricula [are] proficiently demonstrated while the driver-trainee has actual control of the power unit during a driving lesson.”

Likewise, the agency does not require a minimum amount of classroom time, but simply requires training providers to cover the full scope of the core curriculum set by the rule.

Required curricula items for Class A CDL include basic operation of a vehicle, vehicle control systems and dashboard instruments, pre- and post-trip inspections, backing and docking, coupling and uncoupling, distracted driving, use of signals and other vehicle communication, emergency situations, roadside inspections, truck maintenance, handling cargo, hours of service, wellness, post-crash procedures, trip planning and more.

Behind-the-wheel training requirements cover a similar set of required training activities.

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The classroom element and the driving elements must be administered by an FMCSA-approved provider from the Training Provider Registry established by the rule. States’ licensing agencies must electronically certify CDL applicants have completed proper training before allowing them to take the skills test required to receive a CDL.

The agency outlines in the rule procedures for trainers to apply and be approved for the Training Provider Registry. Carriers who offer their own in-house training can still do so, but they must go through the same procedure as training schools and other entities to be added to the registry. Individuals can also train friends and family members, but they must also be verified by FMCSA to do so.

FMCSA estimates the total cost of the rule to the trucking industry will total $3.67 billion by 2029, equating to about $366 million annually from the 2020 compliance date. The agency estimates those costs will be partially offset by a $2.389 billion benefit to the industry, coming by way of more efficient truck operation, fewer crashes and lower maintenance and repair costs.

Trainer Marty
Trainer Marty

Currently this industry has no standards for entry level drivers. How can this be a bad initiative? I see comments in here that are completely outrageous and make no sense. This is a great move. To ensure these students receive a minimum standard only sets the industry up for success. Schools will need to train to a standard that's currently not in place.

I'm a certified trainer in Ontario and I see the difference between my school and the Cracker Jack box schools. The drivers I train ARE ready to work and are successful, highly skilled, and confident to drive at a professional level. Companies take on these students and enroll them into an finish program. Spending time with in house trainers on the road working in the field. This could take 3 months to complete at the company. The total time it takes to be ready for the road from entry level education to road test at ministry of transportation to company finish program is 5 to 6 months. The experience they gain would qualify them to have 3 years experience.

Those people here posting negative aditudes need to re evaluate the position. If it costs 10 grand that's should be seen as a nominal cost as this money should be made back in only a few short months. Education shouldn't be looked upon poorly.


We have a shortage of drivers why not make it more difficult to get new blood by charging $2000 to $10,000 for a job people can learn by riding with a good driver. It is the persons ability not the school they came from.  In my 40 years in the business the best drivers are ones who rode with a family member and truly want the job. I will not touch at driving school student until they have 3 years of driving in all weather.  This is what happens when you appoint a mayor and lawyer to head the dot. Hopefully next year we will have common sense prevail.


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So basically everything is the same, I just have to PAY the FMCSA for me to have "permission" to teach my son or grandson.