FMCSA Announces Pilot Program to Evaluate
Under-21 Veterans as CDL Drivers
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) plans to launch a pilot program that would permit a limited number of 18-20 year olds who possess the U.S. military equivalent of a commercial driver’s license to operate large trucks in interstate commerce, provided they are sponsored by a participating trucking company. The program, which was published in the July 6, 2018 Federal Register, is a fulfillment of Section 5404 of the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act.
“This program will allow our Veterans and Reservists to translate their extensive training into good-paying jobs operating commercial vehicles safely across the country, while also addressing the nationwide driver shortage,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao.
During the pilot program, the FMCSA will compare the driver activity (e.g., duty hours, driving hours, off-duty time, restart breaks), safety outcomes (e.g., crashes, violations, and safety-critical events) and any additional supporting information (e.g., OBMS logs, investigative reports from previous crashes) of these 18-20 year old drivers to a control group of interstate CDL drivers aged 21 to 24. The FMCSA will submit a report detailing the findings and its recommendations to Congress no later than a year after the agency completes data collection. The results of the pilot program could be instrumental in amending laws which currently prohibit any driver younger than 21 from operating large commercial trucks in interstate commerce.
The FMCSA expects to need 70 motor carriers to hire at least 200 drivers to compare to a control group of 200 drivers and/or 200 intrastate drivers, so that the pilot program results/data will allow for the highest confidence level. The agency anticipates the program to run three years, but may conclude the program sooner if there is sufficient data to analyze the safety of covered drivers.
Before the pilot program can officially commence, FMCSA is required by federal statute to allow a public comment period. Comments must be received on or before September 4, 2018 and may be submitted at regulations.gov by using Docket ID FMCSA-2017-0196.
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