The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is now accepting applications for its pilot program that allows 18- to 20-year-olds with the U.S. military equivalent of a commercial driver’s license (CDL) to operate large trucks across state lines. Currently, drivers between the ages of 18 and 20 are forbidden from driving in interstate operations.
As directed by the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, the pilot program will permit a limited number of individuals aged 18-20 to operate large trucks in interstate commerce — as long as they possess the military equivalent of a CDL and are sponsored by a participating trucking company. The pilot program is slated to run for up to three years. During that time, the safety records of these under-21 drivers will be compared to the records of a control group of 21-24 year old CDL drivers with comparable training and experience driving trucks. The FMCSA says this will help determine whether age is a critical factor in driver safety.
U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao says the program will help military veterans and reservists to transition into good-paying jobs while also helping the trucking industry recruit and retain drivers.
To learn more about this program and how to apply, visit fmcsa.dot.gov/under21pilot/under-21-pilot-program. FMCSA says it expects to need approximately 70 carriers to hire at least 200 participating drivers and provide at least 200 control group drivers. The agency will maintain a list of approved carriers and participating drivers for law enforcement. Participating drivers will be required to carry a copy of an exemption letter from the agency to the approved carrier to present to law enforcement during inspections.
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