DOT Sued to Set Driver Instruction Standards

Congress initially told the agency to finish a rulemaking process on driver training by 1993, but the agency still has not done so, stated a press release from the

So – what’s going on? 

Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH), and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters filed the suit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia against the DOT and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)  The suit was filed Sept. 18 in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.  DOT had already announced it was beginning the process.

DOT sued to set Commerical Driver Instruction Standards.
DOT sued to set Commerical Driver Instruction Standards.


Plaintiff attorney Adina Rosenbaum explained the rationale for the lawsuit.

“Although the agency has announced that it has begun to look into the negotiated rulemaking process, it certainly hasn’t given any sort of timeframe of when it expects that to be completed and when it expects to have a final rule on the issue,” Rosenbaum told Land Line. –

What does this mean? Uniform standards for CDL training and instructor certification.  Something the  OOIDA has been supporting.

A safe, experienced, and professional driver behind the wheel of a tractor trailer forms the foundation of motor carrier safety. However, unlike airline pilots, railroad engineers, and tugboat captains, there has never been a requirement that tractor-trailer drivers complete a basic training regimen that ensures they know how to operate the vehicle safely in real-world conditions. This is the case, despite the fact that the general public is in constant contact with trucks and that approximately 80 percent of all truck-involved accidents are the result of a “human factor.” A good portion of the “truck driver training” programs available are focused on making sure that the individual passes the CDL road test and not on giving the new driver the skills and knowledge to control their 80,000 pound tractor trailer.

Around the country, there are what can only be deemed “CDL mills” offering folks hungry for a job a “guarantee” that they will pass the CDL written and road tests. A quick Internet search shows websites offering CDL training on DVD, test answers with a “guarantee that you will pass,” and schools that are proud to tout their “100% pass rating” – despite the fact that the new drivers may only receive less than a day’s worth of instruction on what they will be tested on, not what they will need to know as a truck driver. One school was even offering a coupon deal.

Not only are there no requirements that these schools actually provide their students any real training beyond how to pass the CDL test, there is not a requirement that instructors meet a basic level of qualification. Although many schools and training programs see that new drivers are taught by safe, experienced current or former truck drivers who have been themselves taught basic instructional techniques, too many programs rely on individuals who themselves are new to the trucking industry. It is hard to learn the safe way to operate a truck when your teacher is still learning the basics. – an OOIDA website.

One has to wonder how it takes over 20 years to get around to making such a rule, when DOT has had plenty of time to create the CSA, the PSP, and BASIC.  Further, there is the projected professional CDL-A driver shortage for the industry to deal with, and making it harder to train drivers might enhance this deficit.