Entry Level Driver Training

Have you hired a driver or made one of your existing employees a driver since July 2003? If yes, did that new driver have at least one year of interstate driving experience before you made them a driver? If no, you must train that new driver on certain required topics and have that training documented.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued a final rule requiring training for entry-level drivers who are subject to the commercial driver’s license (CDL) requirements. Drivers who are required to hold a CDL and have less than one year’s experience in operating commercial motor vehicles (CMV) in interstate commerce are subject to the training requirements.

Training Areas
The training must include instruction in the following four areas:

Driver Qualification – Training in this area must cover the federal rules on medical certification and examination procedures, general qualifications, responsibilities and disqualifications based on various offenses, orders and loss of driving privileges (49 CFR Part 391, Subparts B and E).

Hours of Service – Instruction on this topic must include the limitations on driving hours, the requirement to be off duty for certain periods of time, record of duty status preparation, and exceptions (49 CFR Part 395). Fatigue countermeasures as a means to avoid crashes must also be included in the hours of service training.

Driver Wellness – Training in this area must include information on basic health maintenance, including diet and exercise, as well as the importance of avoiding excessive use of alcohol.

Whistleblower Protection – The right of an employee to question the safety practices of an employer without risk of losing his/her job or being subject to reprisals for stating a safety concern must be included in the training (29 CFR Part 1978).

Proof of Training
An employer who uses an entry-level driver must ensure the driver has received the training and has received a training certificate or diploma verifying that he/she received the training. A copy of the certificate or diploma must be placed in the driver’s personnel or qualification file. The certificate or diploma must include certain items. A sample training certificate is on the GAWDA Web site at this link: http://www.gawda.org/secure/traffic/forms/EntryLevelDriverTrainingCertification.pdf.

Compliance Timeline
An entry-level driver who first began operating a CMV in interstate commerce requiring a CDL between July 20, 2003, and July 20, 2004, must have received the training by Oct. 18, 2004. An entry-level driver who will begin operating a CMV in interstate commerce on or after July 21, 2004, must receive this training before driving a CMV.

Where to Get Help
J.J. Keller currently has some written materials published that you can use, along with an available training certificate. By the time you read this, J.J. Keller should have released a video that can be used to meet all the training requirements. GAWDA members who purchase J.J. Keller products through the Online Store at www.gawda.org receive a 10 percent discount.

The Web site for J.J. Keller’s entry level driver information is: www.jjkeller.com/informationcenters/entry/home.htm. Remember, this only applies to drivers you hired after July 20, 2003, and who have less than one year of interstate driving experience. If you convert any existing employees into drivers, this will also apply to them.

Gases and Welding Distributors Association
Meet the Author
GAWDA DOT & Security Consultant Michael Dodd is president of MLD Safety Associates in Poplar Bluff, Missouri. Members can reach him at (573) 785-5111 and at mldsafety@hotmail.com.