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March 23, 2017 5:01 PM, EDT

Federal Staffing Levels Slowing Entry-Level Driver Training Rule Review

Yager by Joseph Terry/Transport Topics

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The latest delay of an entry-level driver training rule is being slowed by the smaller number of staff dedicated to the task, an official with the agency overseeing truck policies said March 23 at the Mid-America Trucking Show.

“The reviewing is done by the White House people,” Thomas Yager, chief of the Driver and Carrier Operations Division at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, said March 23 at the Mid-America Trucking Show. “The DOT already spoke on this. When you have a new administration, they review everything with their own eyes, and that’s what’s happening now. It happens with most administrations. It’s not that unusual. It’s a little bit slower now.” That, he said, was due to a smaller number of White House staff currently reviewing the rules. 

However, an FMCSA spokesman said March 24 that Yager misspoke.

“Mr. Thomas Yager incorrectly reported that the Entry Level Driver Training Rule was delayed due to the White House,” said a spokesman. “The ELDT Rule is part of the DOT’s ongoing regulatory review. It is scheduled to go into effect on May 22, 2017.”

The rule had been scheduled to go into effect March 21. When the final rule takes effect, stakeholders will have until February 2020 to comply.

A directive in a memorandum authorized by President Trump in January ordered the heads of executive departments and agencies, such as FMCSA, to postpone certain regulations for 60 days from the effective dates that had been published in the Register.

Donald Lefeve, executive director of the Commercial Vehicle Training Association, took issue with the delay. He said it was a mistake to apply the presidential memorandum on the entry-level driver training rule.

“Since the ELDT final rule has been over 20 years in the making, is nearly four years overdue as required by statute and is not subject to the memorandum, we request your assistance in implementing the regulation’s effective date, thus demonstrating your commitment to safety through training,” Lefeve wrote in a letter to Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao on March 22.

When it is formally unveiled, the rule will require that behind-the-wheel proficiency of an entry-level truck and bus driver be determined solely by the instructor’s evaluation of how well the driver-trainee performs the fundamental vehicle control skills and driving procedures set forth in curricula.