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Are the Current FMCSA Training Requirements Enough?

red semi-truck driving past a line of trees

Drivers who operate large trucks or other commercial vehicles often get a bad rap from other motorists. With strict scrutiny based on how these trucks are operated to passenger vehicles not understanding the blind spots, there is often a call to action from others on the road for truckers to receive even more extensive training. What many fail to realize, however, is that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) routinely revisits and updates its driver training requirements and policies in order to address top safety concerns. This blog will discuss the newest requirements, as well as California-specific policies in place.

FMCSA Truck Driving Training Requirements as of 2022

The FMCSA announced in February 2022 that it would be revising the national training requirements for new Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) applicants. These new regulations require all CDL applicants to go through two-part training with theory and behind-the-wheel (BTW) courses. Neither of these trainings have a minimum number of required hours to complete. However, a score of at least 80% is required to pass the theory assessment, and BTW proficiency will be determined by the certified training provider. The FMCSA acknowledges, however, that states reserve the right to implement additional training.

It's important to note that this training is not retroactive—drivers who have an active CDL prior to February 7, 2022, are not required to complete it in order to keep their job unless they are upgrading a Class B CDL to a Class A CDL or adding an endorsement (school bus, passenger, or hazardous materials) for the first time.

You can learn more about the new entry-level driver training here.

California Truck Driver Regulations

The FMCSA’s new CDL training policies apply to all states; however, California has additional rules. To qualify for a CDL in the state of California, applicants must go through an additional 15 hours of BTW training and submit a proof of completion - California Commercial Driver Behind The Wheel Training Certification - to the DMV before receiving their CDL. The state also has age requirements for certain hauls:

  • Drivers of at least 18 years of age may only make intrastate cargo hauls
  • Drivers must be at least 21 years of age for interstate commerce and hazardous material transportation

Do These Requirements Improve Safety?

The FMCSA has identified that driver training and safety are closely linked. As seen in the new national regulations, it is important for truck drivers to understand the risks associated with operating large commercial vehicles as well as being aware of their own limitations and capabilities. As a result, these new training requirements should improve not just roadway safety but also job security as drivers become more competent. Furthermore, the additional 15 hours of training required in California is an extra safeguard that should help new truck drivers acclimate to the state’s regulations and laws.

Should I Undergo Additional Training If I Already Have a CDL?

If you already have an active CDL but would like to receive additional training, it is important to review the regulations in your state. Some states may offer optional training courses that can help drivers sharpen their skills and learn more about the industry. These courses are typically offered by local truck driving schools or vocational centers and often include classroom instruction as well as BTW practice. Additionally, some employers may offer additional driver training as a way to reduce liability and improve safety. Ultimately, the decision whether or not to undergo further training is often up to each individual driver.

The trucking industry is constantly evolving, and it's important for drivers to stay on top of the latest regulations and training requirements to remain safe, secure and competitive. The FMCSA’s new training requirements are a great step forward in improving safety, but drivers should also research the guidelines set by their own state for additional protection and knowledge.

California Motor Vehicle Accident Attorney

Whether a truck driver or another motorist, you deserve to be protected while on the roads. Our experienced Chico firm can help you through the claims process from start to finish. Request a free consultation today by calling (530) 413-0245 or filling out this short form.