September 18, 2014
Mr. Richard Clemente
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Avenue SE
Washington, DC 20590
RE: Minimum Training Requirements for Entry-Level Commercial Drivers’ License Applicants; Consideration of Negotiated Rulemaking Process
Notice of Intent
Docket No. FMCSA-2007-27748
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
Dear Mr. Clemente:
On behalf of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), I write to comment on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Notice of Intent to pursue a Negotiated Rulemaking to implement section 32304 of MAP-21. This mandate calls on the Secretary to establish minimum entry-level driver training (ELDT) requirements for individuals who operate commercial motor vehicles (CMVs). By way of background, TTD consists of 32 affiliate unions that represent workers in all modes of transportation, including a wide range of workers of who hold commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs) and operate a variety of CMVs. We therefore have a vested interest in this rulemaking. In addition to this filing, some of our affiliate unions have commented as well, and we express support for those submissions.
At the outset, we express support for the agency’s continued efforts to improve the safety of the CMV industry and for initiating this proceeding. By implementing section 32304, FMCSA will establish new minimum training standards for obtaining or upgrading a CDL to help ensure those driving a CMV receive at least some training on how to operate their vehicle safely.
As FMCSA considers ELDT requirements, it should be noted that many CMV drivers represented by TTD unions already participate in excellent training programs sponsored by employers in the motorcoach industry or through union apprenticeship programs in the construction trades. For example, over-the-road bus drivers at Greyhound take part in programs that include classroom and behind-the-wheel training that cover a range of topics, including proper logging procedures, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, proper use of equipment, and skills tests on the road. Such training programs are intended to be rigorous, testing the knowledge and skills of drivers before they are hired as employees and cutting applicants who fail the program. Too often however, these training programs do not exist at less established or curbside operators and it is crucial that basic training mandates in this sector apply to the entire industry.
For individuals in the construction trades, extensive apprenticeship programs are available that offer workers classroom and hands-on experience that prepares them for multiple credentials, including CDLs. These programs entail incomparable training that allows workers to master their skills for operating specialized construction equipment on the worksite and over highways.
Given the success of these type of programs, they must be allowed to continue operating under the new ELDT standards. The agency should leverage these existing programs by reviewing and using their unique components and curriculums as a basis for the new standards. FMCSA also must ensure that the new regulation allows for programs that include training above and beyond the minimum standards. The motorcoach industry and apprenticeship programs should be able to provide training programs that surpass the minimum, providing participants a smooth transition from completing the ELDT requirements to undergoing additional training that will increase their safety performance.
We also note that without the availability of apprenticeships or employer-provided programs that provide this training, many current or potential CDL holders will be forced to receive training from institutions that may be profit-driven. In sectors where these programs do not exist, the agency must be sure to protect drivers from such entities and the exorbitant costs they will be tempted to charge student drivers.
With regard to process itself, we support a Negotiated Rulemaking that includes robust labor participation from TTD member unions. As the agency knows, a wide range of workers hold CDLs as a requirement of employment. These workers operate a variety of CMVs, drive for various lengths of times, and operate in either/both interstate or intrastate commerce. TTD unions represent CDL holders in nearly every mode of transportation: from over-the-road and school bus drivers, and construction workers, to transit operators, and railroad and longshore workers. Because it is unclear which CDL holders will be impacted by the new ELDT requirements, it is even more important that TTD unions representing these workers be at the table when the new standards are being formed.
We appreciate the opportunity to comment on the agency’s notice, and we hope that our thoughts will be taken into serious consideration.
 Attached is a complete list of TTD’s 32 affiliated unions.