WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has issued entry-level driver-training requirements that could affect school bus operations.
These requirements apply to CDL drivers operating in interstate commerce who obtained their license after July 20, 2003.
School bus drivers who do not operate outside of their state are exempt, as are drivers who are subject to the jurisdiction of the Federal Transit Administration.
Drivers who work for private school bus contractors and travel across state lines for activity trips are not exempt.
The entry-level driver-training requirements mandate four specific knowledge areas that must be taught to new drivers:
1. Driver wellness — Covering health, eating habits, alcohol, obesity and other related topics.
2. Hours of service (and fatigue) — Includes the basics of the hours of service rules and the requirements of the rules.
3. Driver qualification — All of the aspects of qualification so the driver understands precisely what is required under DOT, CDL, medical and substance-abuse rules.
4. Whistleblower protections — An explanation of these employee protection rules and how they can reasonably be applied.
The training as mandated by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) must meet several other key criteria. Naturally, as within most regulatory requirements, records of the training provided must be created and maintained by the company. A certificate of completion, in a specific format, must be provided to each driver who attends the program. And, the training must be significant: DOT estimates that training new drivers in these four areas will take at least one full day to accomplish.
DOT efforts in both driver wellness and fatigue, in combination with the regulations themselves, offer clear guidance as to what information should be taught as a part of the entry-level programs.