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Jon Osburn and OOIDA’s Tour Truck, the Spirit of the American Trucker, are at the Petro truck stop in Knoxville, Tenn. That’s located at Exit 369 off Interstates 40 and 75. Stop in, say hi to Jon, and join OOIDA for a $10 discount. See the full Spirit Schedule. Air date: May 26, 2018.

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When it comes to training, truckers want to see more

When the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration created the driver training rule, it left something important out – a minimum number of hours that a trucker would have to spend behind the wheel during training.

That’s especially curious considering that the agency had set up a committee of interested parties to perform what’s called a negotiated rulemaking – and that all but two people on the committee had voted for a minimum 30 hours.

But for some truckers, even the 30 hours didn’t do the trick. They really thought more would be needed.

One of those truckers is Jerry Armstrong of Tyronza, Ark.

“30 hours is nowhere near enough to train somebody on how to drive a truck,” Jerry said. “I mean, they’re not going to have any training on going up and down hills, in snow and ice, coming in and out of truck stops.”

And Jerry is right – absolutely right. In fact, I would wager the overwhelming majority of truck drivers would agree with him.

However, the 30 initially called for was far better than what we had before – which is zero, nothing, nada, no behind-the-wheel requirement whatsoever.

It’s also better than what the agency settled on, which is also nothing.

They are going with the ATA company line that truckers should be tested based on skills, not an arbitrary number of hours. But many of their larger members have demonstrated that they will do as little as possible.

OOIDA said as much in a petition filed jointly with Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, the Truck Safety Coalition, and Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways.

In the petition, the groups wrote: “The rule simply requires that candidates demonstrate to their instructor that they are proficient in performing a series of maneuvers while operating a CMV. In fact, the agency notes that there is no requirement that a candidate perform each skill more than once.

“Thus, this so-called performance-based standard requires no behind-the-wheel training at all for drivers who can maneuver a truck-trailer combination in an off-road setting included in the CDL skills test, exactly the same bar that CDL candidates have always been required to pass while taking the skills test administered by state licensing agencies.”

However, there is a positive side to this. Laura O’Neill-Kaumo, who at the time was OOIDA’s director of government affairs, told Land Line Magazine, “We have a first step. Yesterday there was no driver training regulation, and we now have one.” 

As to the 30 hours that the committee agreed on, OOIDA agreed with that because it’s what the Association could get.

OOIDA, like so many others in trucking, would like far more time. Many in the industry would like to see an apprenticeship program. We’d all like to see more qualified trainers.

The program now is “get what you can get, and then fix it later.” It’s not the start we wanted to see, but as Laura said, it’s a start. And a small start is better than never starting at all.


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