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New CDL rules go into effect

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is responsible for ensuring that the nation's commercial vehicles are safe and properly maintained, and the federal safety agency also establishes the requirements for obtaining commercial driver's licenses in South Carolina and around the country. The FMCSA proposed changes to these rules in 2015, and the revised regulations were finally implemented on June 5. The rules were scheduled to be rolled out in early 2017, but a regulatory review ordered by the Trump Administration caused a further delay lasting five months.

The new regulations will apply to drivers who obtain their commercial driver's licenses on or after Feb. 7, 2020, which gives logistics firms and companies offering commercial vehicle training services almost three years to prepare. In addition to establishing a registry of FMCSA-approved commercial vehicle driving instructors, the new rules introduce a core curriculum for trainee truck drivers and make at least some behind-the-wheel training mandatory.

The FMCSA has been criticized by some road safety organizations and trade groups for not requiring trainee truck drivers to undergo a minimum amount of training in real world situations. The agency's original proposal called for 30 hours of supervised driving on closed courses and public roads, but these provisions failed to make it through the public review phase. A number of lobbying groups have asked the FMCSA to reconsider its position on this issue.

Experienced personal injury attorneys may support regulatory efforts that improve truck driver training and make commercial driver's licenses more difficult to obtain, but they could also point out that impairment, distraction or fatigue could be just as likely to cause semi truck accidents than inexperience. When pursuing civil remedies on behalf of those who have been injured in these types of crashes, attorneys may check the records of the truck drivers and companies involved to find out if they have behaved recklessly in the past.

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