SAE J3300 Pioneers Test-Driver Certification

The new SAE J3300 Standard promises a higher level of safety, competence, and consistency for everyone involved with professional driving.

In late February 2019, SAE J3300 committee members met at Smithers Winter Test Center in northern Michigan. From left: Derek Logan, Mark-Tami Hotta, Rich DeMary, Richard Woodroffe, Kevin Fuller, Sean Connolly, Mark Osborne, Darrell Hancock, Mike Nasir, Erich Heuschele, Mike Benjamin, Adam Buchanan, and Mike Betts. (SAE J3300 Committee)

The best part of my job as editor of SAE Standards News is engaging with the various committee members who volunteer their time for the good of industry, and the SAE staffers who support them. All have a focus and enthusiasm for their work that’s essentially unique in the industry. A recent highlight was collaborating with the SAE J3300 Driving Skills Committee, whose four-year effort has produced the first-ever global driving skills certification standard.

The new SAE J3300  is aimed at professional drivers but also is available for the public. It serves as a foundation to certify fundamental driving skill levels and can be used by those pro drivers seeking employment or other professional activity. The certification levels have long been in demand by test facilities, vehicle-development teams and other organizations.

The following associated documents establish driving skill criteria for specific categories:

  • SAE J3300: Driving level
  • SAE J3300/1: Low mu/winter driving
  • SAE J3300/2: Trailer towing
  • SAE J3300/3: Automated driving

Additional certifications will be added to the document family as appropriate. All certifications will involve objective pass/fail criteria and will be administered by SAE-certified examiners to ensure the integrity and consistency of the certification. The SAE J3300 main document provides common definitions and general guidance for using this family of documents; directions for obtaining certification through Probitas Authentication 1; and driving level examination requirements.

The journey to SAE J3300 began in 2016 when several members of a proving-ground safety committee gathered to discuss how they might address a common concern: lack of a formal “best practices” for test-driving competence. Besides the significant safety risk, the situation also demonstrated inefficiencies: Drivers conducting testing with multiple companies needing to be trained and certified multiple times to different requirements.

Fast-forward to 2020; the J3300 committee now includes more than 60 subject-matter experts representing more than 40 global companies. They meet monthly through WebEx and hold semi-annual in-person meetings. Of the committee’s work, Mark-Tami Hotta, SAE J3300 vice chairman and lead certifier, told me: “Driving safety and driving competence is almost a personal passion and a lifetime mission for many people on this committee. But we didn't start this because it was our passion; it was because there was a problem that needed to be solved.”

Noted Derek Logan, the SAE J3300 committee chair: “Our vision is to provide driver skill certification standards that are recognized globally for basic car control skills, as well as specialized skills like trailer towing, so that every company will have an optimized standard to adopt, so they can focus on their core competencies.”

SAE J3300 is useful for everyone concerned with the safety and skills of those driving or operating vehicles. Benefits to drivers include credibility from a globally recognized and respected source; improved driving skills; reduced likelihood of injury or damage and cost savings. Other benefits include reduced risk; more efficient hiring; ability to redeploy resources; increased employee morale and improved customer satisfaction. “We know that a disciplined implementation of rigorous objective measures for driving competence can be a game changer to reduce driving incidents and save lives,” Hotta said.