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February 27, 2017 4:00 AM, EST
Letters: Entry-Level Driver Training; Accident Reporting

These letters appear in the Feb. 27 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.

Points on Entry-Level Driver-Training Proposal

There are a couple of points of fact that need to be disclosed concerning the proposed entry-level driver-training rule.

• This was the first negotiated rulemaking, or reg-neg, in the history of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The 26 entities that were asked for their input did so largely at their own expense. The National Association of Small Trucking Companies was one of those entities. There were no precedents or points of reference from which to draw guidance. A con- tracted facilitator and representatives from FMCSA guided us through the process and did an outstanding job, as did the participants.

• The participants didn’t write the rule. FMCSA did, using our input.

• The participants recommended the training criteria, and in that proposal was a certain amount of behind-the-wheel training.

• The Office of Management and Budget determined that there was not enough cost-benefit data with the behind-the-wheel training recommendation and took this requirement out or changed it.

• NASTC and American Trucking Associations were the only participants to endorse the proposal without the behind-the-wheel hours-based requirements.

An important distinction should be clearly emphasized: This rule proposal could address only pre-commercial driver license train- ing. This proposal requires training only to obtain a CDL. Post-CDL training, driver school training, apprenticeships or second-seat training were not a part of the discussion, nor could they be.

During our discussions in the negotiated rulemaking, we addressed the pros and cons of classroom, behind-the-wheel off-road and on-road training. NASTC and ATA advocated performance-oriented driving criteria for applicants, not some set number of hours behind the wheel.

NASTC totally agrees with OMB’s conclusion that hours of behind-the-wheel training in this rulemaking is too expensive, will greatly restrict entry into the industry and is inappropriate in pre-CDL training requirements.

As an aside — in small, full-truckload, longhaul trucking, our insurance providers will not allow our companies to hire drivers without a minimum of three years of driving experience. The larger entities that are self-insured and that own and operate driving schools are overwhelmingly in charge of post-CDL training. If the requirements for getting a CDL were too stringent, all interested parties would be forced to pay the expenses and make the career commitment to driving pre-CDL. Many would be forced to go through large-­company, government-supported, driving schools that predominantly feed major carriers.

Also, just so it’s clear — the driver still has to prove proficiency in the operation of the vehicle to obtain his CDL. His qualification is performance-­based, as it is today.

David Owen

President

NASTC

Gallatin, Tennessee

Getting Accident Information in the Age of Mobile Devices

For years, I have envisioned a means to provide a better mousetrap for trucking companies to get information quickly from major accidents. I think we have something that is useful nationwide.

Making an application for a smartphone would be too small for a tablet, and it wouldn’t be accessible to a desktop. The best approach was to make it accessible to the internet and mobile-friendly so that it could be easily scrolled from a smartphone or tablet and also useful on desktop.

Another issue was how much information to include. If there were too much information to input, then it would be overly burdensome and impractical. Defending trucking accidents for more than 25 years, I had some ideas, but I sent out requests to clients and colleagues for the top five essential pieces of information needed immediately.

I struggled with whom to allow access. I want the application to be available to anyone in the practice of protecting trucking companies, so I have not limited the data to be sent to our firm only. A caveat: Only those with password permission can use the tool. However, I control the password, and it’s subject to being changed if the tool is abused.

Some of the cool features are the drop-down buttons, and the location of the accident may be pin-dropped. Pictures can be downloaded immediately, and contact information of witnesses can be preserved. Through the use of buttons with options and drop-down features, it’s user-friendly so that even attorneys can figure it out.

It is not designed to replace field adjusters, accident reconstruction experts or attorneys being on-site. It is not an exhaustive checklist for a thorough investigation and preservation of evidence. However, it’s mobile-friendly and designed as a tool for quick collection of confidential and time-sensitive data. The end recipient will be provided an exhaustive checklist of additional tasks and information to obtain after the initial report.

The data retrieved will be in the form of an e-mail that can be cut and pasted and shared with others, but it’s not a “living document” that can be viewed and amended on the form itself. I think the best way to understand it is to use it.

Tell us if it provides you with the information you want or need. If so, great! If not, tell us how we can improve it.

Mark Perkins

Attorney

Perkins & Associates

Shreveport, Louisiana