Lawsuit to Force Tougher Rule on Truck Driver Training

truck-accidentPublic Citizen is representing safety groups and the Teamsters in a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), asking the court to force the agency to issue an entry-level driver training rule for truck drivers. This comes more than 20 years after the initial deadline was set by congress. Since that deadline passed, safety groups have repeatedly tried to force the agency to act, and Congress passed yet another law with another deadline, which the DOT again failed to honor.

The Lawsuit

The lawsuit was filed on September 18, 2014, by Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH), and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters against the DOT and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

In its press release, Public Citizen said, “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.”

A Brief Timeline

In 1991, Congress passed a law requiring the DOT to issue a law by 1993, requiring entry-level training for commercial drivers. Safety advocates took action in 2002, going to court to try to force the agency to issue a rule, which the agency agreed to do by 2004. In 2004, the DOT issued a pitiful excuse for a rule requiring only 10 hours of classroom training and failing to require any actual hands-on real life on-the-road training for new truck drivers.

Safety advocates went back to court in 2005, and the court agreed that on-the-road training was necessary to improve safety. In 2007 the DOT proposed a new rule, but never completed the process of putting it in place.

Finally, in 2012, Congress passed another law that required the DOT to issue a new rule that included on-the-road training for entry-level drivers, and gave them a deadline of October 1, 2013. In September, 2013, the FMCSA announced that it was scrapping the 2007 proposed rule and starting over.

On August 19, 2014, the agency announced that it hadn’t even started working on the new rule and that it was starting a process to determine if it would be possible for carriers, driver groups, trainers, state agencies, safety advocates and insurance companies to collaborate on a rule that they could all agree on. Comments on this collaborative rulemaking approach were due by September 18, 2014. No timeline was given for when the rule itself might come into existence.


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