Truck Safety:

Information on Driver Training

RCED-89-163: Published: Aug 3, 1989. Publicly Released: Aug 22, 1989.

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Kenneth M. Mead
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed: (1) the Federal Highway Administration's (FHwA) efforts to establish minimum federal standards for training tractor-trailer drivers; (2) driver training curricula offered by various public and private schools; and (3) trucking industry efforts to improve the quality of driver training.

GAO found that: (1) FHwA published rules establishing a 1992 deadline for all truck drivers to pass tests meeting federal standards; (2) FHwA has recommended a minimum 320 hours of training for new drivers; (3) while many schools had adopted the FHwA model curriculum, the hours of instruction and distribution of those hours varied widely among schools; (4) student-to-teacher ratios varied widely among schools and types of instruction; (5) various trucking industry associations were working to develop certification standards; and (6) the majority of private truck driving schools were unaccredited.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: FHwA is assisting states to implement the CDL program, which requires federal standards for testing and licensing commercial drivers and provides incentives for states to improve driver safety. GAO believes that the action is not fully responsive because driver error continues to be cited as the major cause of truck accidents.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, FHwA, to: (1) request public comments on the merits of establishing by regulation formal tractor-trailer training as a uniform standard for the issuance of state commercial drivers' licenses (CDL) and developing federal standards for such training; and (2) if appropriate, initiate a new rulemaking for this purpose.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation


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