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Safety-related training proposed for truck, bus, motor coach drivers

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A federal agency has proposed training standards for entry-level commercial truck and bus drivers that are intended to improve safety.

A notice of proposed rulemaking by the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which is to be published Monday, would require new drivers to obtain at least 30 hours of behind-the-wheel training before receiving a Class A commercial drivers license, including at least 10 hours of driving range practice.

Class A licenses are required to operate tractor-trailer vehicles weighing 26,001 pounds or more, according to the FMCSA's website.

Drivers of school buses, public buses and motor coaches would need at least 15 hours of behind-the-wheel training, including at least seven hours on a driving practice range, to get a Class B commercial drivers license, the FMCSA said Friday in a statement.

In addition, drivers with a Class B license seeking to upgrade to a Class A CDL and drivers who were disqualified and want to regain their CDL also would have to undergo the training.

“Well-trained drivers are safer drivers, which leads to greater safety for our families and friends on our highways and roads,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement. “With the help of our partners, today's proposal serves as a major step towards ensuring that commercial vehicle drivers receive the necessary training required to safely operate a large truck or motor coach.”

The FMCSA convened a 26-member advisory committee early last year to develop the safety regulations. The discussion was mandated by the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act. Better known as MAP 21, the law generally reauthorized funding for federal surface transportation spending that President Barack Obama signed into law in July 2012.

A 30-day public comment period begins Monday on the proposed rule, which would take effect three years after its final adoption, the FMCSA said Friday.