DOT Fails to Devise New DOT Regulations for Truck Drivers

Despite numerous efforts on behalf of highway safety advocates throughout the years and two Congressional orders, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and its Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) have failed to create and implement new DOT regulations for truck drivers, according to safety advocates. A couple of groups are fed up and have filed suit against the DOT.

Dismal Driver Training Standards

There are nearly four million drivers with commercial truck licenses in America, and new drivers hit the road on a daily basis, reports the Teamsters union. As it currently stands, the FMCSA only requires that new drivers attend 10 hours of classroom lectures and pass a test to get a commercial driver’s license.

The Teamsters union reports that approximately 4,000 people die each year in truck accidents, and nearly 100,000 more are injured. A mere 10 hours of classroom training seems hardly adequate to allow drivers to operate 40 ton vehicles that are capable of causing death and destruction if improperly handled.

Henry Jasny, general counsel at Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, commented on the problem. “There’s just no excuse anymore. This should be basic stuff. People are dying because of the lack of training out there,” he said according to a New York Times article. “They pass a written test, drive a truck around the parking lot for 10 minutes to get their C.D.L. and they’re basically able to go out. That’s just not acceptable.”

DOT Lawsuit: Enough is Enough

There are three groups that have filed suit against the DOT and the FMCSA.

  • Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety
  • Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH)
  • International Brotherhood of Teamsters

 

Public Citizen is representing the groups in the lawsuit filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals.

This lawsuit comes after decades of diversion and disregard on the DOT’s and FMCSA’s part. Twenty-three years ago, Congress first mandated that the agencies issue new training standards for truck drivers. They didn’t. In 2002, safety advocates took the DOT/FMCSA to court, and the DOT promised to issue new DOT truck driver regulations within two years, according to Public Citizen. They didn’t.

In 2007, the DOT made an effort to make regulations; they issued a proposal for new standards, but never completed the process and the initiative fizzled out. In 2012, Congress issued yet another rule mandating the agencies to issue regulations. They still haven’t obeyed. Acceptable training standards for new truck drivers have yet to be issued.

Adina Rosenbaum, attorney for Public Citizen said: “Enough is enough. Twenty years, two lawsuits, and two congressional mandates have not been successful at prodding the DOT into issuing the entry-level driver training rule. The court should step in and order the agency to act.”

The Hope for Safer Roads

Far too many people die in truck accidents operated by poorly trained drivers. More intensive and stricter training protocols and additional practice time should be required prior to issuing a commercial truck license. These changes could go a long way in preventing the needless truck accident-related injuries and deaths each year.

New DOT regulations for truck drivers are needed. The FMSCA has essentially been enabling much of these accidents caused by under-trained operators, said John Lannen, executive director of the Truck Safety Coalition.

“The FMCSA’s inaction to release a new notice of proposed rulemaking for entry-level driver training is perpetuating a hazard for everyone on our roadways by permitting inexperienced drivers to interact with the unknowing public. This hazard will only grow in scope as the turnover rate for truck drivers continues to remain extremely high – over 90 percent – and the current truck driver work force ages out,” said Lannen.

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