TRUCKING & TRANSPORTATION: Trumping Regulations

A new administration naturally brings with it a flurry of regulatory course changes, and regulations of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) are no exception as seen with the FMCSA's recent postponement of the implementation of its Entry-Level Driver Training rule (ELDT).

On January 20, 2017, the White House issued a directive to all the federal agencies ordering them to "temporarily postpone" the effective date of rules that had already been published in the Federal Register for 60-days. Accordingly, the FMCSA announced through the Federal Register (82 FR 8903) that the effective date of the ELDT is continued from February 6, 2017 to March 21, 2017. However, the FMCSA cautioned that the effective date could be delayed beyond March 21, 2017, depending on any whether any further directives are issued by the White House.

The ELDT, as published on December 8, 2016 (81 FR 88732), establishes new minimum training standards for certain first time commercial drivers including those applying for a Class A or Class B commercial driver's license (CDL), seeking to upgrade their CDL, or seeking a hazardous materials, passenger, or school bus endorsement. The training will include a prescribed program of theory (knowledge) and behind-the-wheel (range and public road) instruction provided by an FMCSA approved entity.

Although the initial draft of the ELDT required 30 hours of behind the wheel training, the current ELDT lacks such minimum training time. Instead, the current ELDT simply requires trainers to train new drivers to allow them to demonstrate proficiency "to the satisfaction of the trainer."

On December 21, 2016, four groups petitioned the FMCSA to halt the implementation of the ELDT until the 30 hours of behind the wheel training was restored. The groups included the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, The Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, the Truck Safety Coalition and Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways. Notably, other recently published rules have not been affected, including mandating electronic logging devices and establishing a CDL Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse.

Notwithstanding, this reexamination will likely not be the last regulation to be thrown into the realm of uncertainty while a new administration seeks to secure its footing.