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California takes the lead with Truck Driver Training

On July 19th, the State of California Assembly Committee on Transportation passed Senate Bill (SB) 158 by Senator Bill Monning (D-Carmel).  The bill claims to improve road safety by implementing new federal commercial truck driving regulations, as well as adding additional truck driver safety requirements.  

“Every day Californians share the road with large commercial vehicles that transport commercial goods, hazardous materials, and passengers.  The drivers of these commercial vehicles need to be held to the highest safety standards to reduce the risk of fatal and tragic accidents,” Senator Monning said.  “SB 158 is a sensible measure that will help save lives by requiring drivers of big rigs and other large commercial vehicles to have driving experience prior to being licensed in California.  No family should lose a loved one due to the negligence and inexperience of a commercial truck driver who was not prepared to get behind the wheel.”

In 2014, a truck driver on Highway 17 lost control and crashed into 10 cars, injuring seven and killing 25-year-old Daniel McGuire of Santa Cruz.  The truck driver’s lack of adequate training and experience was deemed a major factor in the crash.  In that same year, there were 10,062 at-fault commercial vehicle collisions reported in California, of which 2,432 resulted in injury and 68 were fatal. 

SB 158 will implement a federal rule that requires those seeking a commercial driver’s license (CDL) complete a certified course of instruction from a commercial driving institution or program offered by an employer before being issued a CDL.  Additionally, the measure requires the Department of Motor Vehicles to adopt regulations to comply with the federal rule by June 5, 2020 and establishes minimum behind-the-wheel training requirements to be completed as part of CDL training.

The bill now moves to the Assembly Committee on Appropriations.  

California is also making significant efforts towards reducing wait times for CDL road tests. California has 23 locations that offer CDL road testing. A survey of testing sites one year ago found that wait times ranged from 19 business days to 61 business days, according to a fiscal note attached to the bill In December 2016, 17 of the 23 driving test locations had wait times longer than three weeks. One location had a wait time of 65 business days.

AB 301 (Rodriguez/Patterson) is a bi-partisan bill that requires the DMV to test trained truck and bus drivers no more than 7 days after they request an appointment. The bill also requires DMV to report to the legislature by June 2018 how they plan to achieve the 7-day maximum wait time. It has the support of countless trucking associations and schools throughout California.