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New commercial driver training rules proposed by the FMCSA

Large and heavy commercial vehicles are a common sight on the roads of Ohio, and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is the government agency responsible for ensuring that truck drivers are capable of safely controlling the heavy commercial vehicles at their command. Strict requirements must be met before a commercial driver's license is awarded, and the steps that trainee truck operators must take in order to receive their CDL will change significantly if proposals made by the FMCSA on March 4 are implemented.

The changes to CDL requirements proposed by the FMCSA would see a new curriculum introduced for drivers that combines experience behind the wheel with time spent in a classroom setting. Under the proposed rules, trainee drivers would be required to spend at least 30 hours driving in the presence of an instructor. This driving time would be spent on both public roads and specially designed closed courses. Classroom sessions would cover road safety and commercial vehicle issues.

It will be some time before the new CDL requirements are implemented. The public will be given 60 days to comment on the proposals or make suggestions before the FMCSA sends the measures to the Office of Management and Budget and the Department of Transportation for review. Once approval has been obtained, the proposals will be published in the Federal Register. Implementation occurs three years after publication.

Knowing that the drivers of big rigs and buses are properly trained may be reassuring to motorists, but regulations alone can never make the roads truly safe. Accidents involving trucks or buses are often caused by reckless drivers or poorly maintained vehicles, and they frequently leave other road users with debilitating injuries. Accident victims often face serious financial challenges as well as prolonged and grueling physical therapy, and lawsuits filed on their behalf by personal injury attorneys may seek compensation for their medical expenses and other damages.

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