The National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS) asked the U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to postpone all aspects of a final rule that seeks to strengthen the training that is provided to all new entry-level commercial drivers.
FMCSA announced last month that it was proposing a two-year delay in the compliance date for two parts of its entry-level driver training (ELDT) final rule. Those are that driver certifications and record-keeping be stored and transmitted in an electronic database.
The complete final rule was set to go into effect on Feb. 7, 2020. But FMCSA’s latest proposal would only make new training requirements effective next year.
NASDPTS recommended to FMCSA in a letter delivered on Monday, that the entire final rule be delayed until February 7, 2022. NASDPTS also pointed out that school buses and their drivers already have an “unparalleled” safety record. In particular, students who ride school buses are 70 times more likely to arrive at school alive than when riding in other transportation modes.
FMCSA said it needs the additional two years to finalize the electronic database, where training providers will upload entry-level driver training (ELDT) certification information into the Training Provider Registry (TPR) and for State Driver Licensing Agencies (SDLAs) to receive driver-specific ELDT information, would be extended.
However, FMCSA said that new commercial drivers would still be required to comply with new training requirements by next February.
NASDPTS attributed the “unparalleled” safety record to “robust” pre-service, the entry-level training for drivers that is already provided by states, local school districts and private bus contractors.
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“Minimum requirements for entry-level training of school bus drivers are already common practice,” NASDPTS wrote. “Retaining the existing requirements within the final rule, while delaying the compliance date to ensure orderly implementation, will augment our long-standing record of providing the safest transportation possible for our nation’s children.”
NASDPTS argued that a partial delay would likely result in confusion among new drivers, registered trainers and state certification agencies. NASDPTS also said a “bifurcated schedule with different aspects of the overall program” is not consistent with recommendations that were made by a committee that was formed five years ago, and that NASDPTS was a part of advising FMCSA on how to construct the new ELDT program.
FMCSA adopted those recommendations when writing its final rule, which was announced on Dec. 18, 2016.