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Safety Groups Sue U.S. for Tougher Trucker-Training Rules


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Bloomberg / September 20, 2014

The U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration was sued by a coalition of groups seeking to force the agency to issue stiffer rules for training entry-level truck drivers.

Regulators have missed multiple deadlines set by two laws passed by Congress since 1991, according to the complaint filed by Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety. The group is asking a judge to force the agency to propose regulations establishing minimum entry-level training requirements for commercial vehicle operators within 60 days.

“People are dying needlessly while the agency drags its feet,” Henry Jasny, the Washington-based watchdog group’s general counsel, said in a statement.

U.S. lawmakers are considering ending federal rules governing the work and rest schedule of long-haul truck drivers. Fatalities in large-truck crashes have increased in recent years, despite a drop in total motor vehicle deaths, the advocacy group said.

The FMSCA issued a rule in 2004 that requires 10 hours of classroom work on topics including driver wellness and hours of service. That rule is inadequate because it doesn’t require training for entry-level drivers on how to operate commercial vehicles, according to the complaint.

Marissa Padilla, a spokeswoman for the FMSCA, said in an e-mail that the agency is working to improve on the current rule and “implement entry-level driver training that includes behind-the-wheel instruction for operating large trucks and buses.” She declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety is seeking a court order requiring the agency to issue a final rule within 180 days.

The organization filed its complaint with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways, a truck safety advocacy group that includes crash survivors.

The case is In re Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, 14-1183, U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia (Washington).

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