The U.S Department of Transportation’s FMCSA announced that they’re seeking public comment on allowing a potential pilot program to allow drivers ages 18-20 to operate CMVs in interstate commerce. The transportation industry is a crucial factor to our economy. It’s unclear if the FMCSA is acknowledging the driver shortage we face, however by lowering the age requirements to operate a CMV in interstate commerce it may be a small piece to the puzzle.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao says, “Commercial trucks and buses are essential to a thriving national economy, and the Department wants to ensure the public has an opportunity to comment on this important potential change”.
As of last year the FMCSA launched a pilot program allowing 18-20 year olds to operate CMVs in interstate commerce, provided that they must have military training. This was granted by the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. Currently, the second pilot program the FMCSA is requesting comments on, if passed will allow drivers under 21 to operate CMVs interstate without having military training.
The FMCSA is requesting feedback on the training they should consider, as well as, vehicle safety systems, driving limitations, and qualifications to include in the second pilot program.
The FMCSA is requesting comments on the following questions:
- What data are currently available on the safety performance (e.g. crash involvement, etc.) of 18-20-year-old drivers operating CMVs in intrastate commerce?
- Are there concerns about obtaining insurance coverage for drivers under 21 who operate CMVs in intrastate commerce, and would these challenges be greater for interstate operations?
- What is the minimum driving experience that should be required for a driver to be admitted to a pilot?
- What kind of supervision, and how much, should be required for drivers under 21 in a pilot?
- Should there be any specific training / qualification requirements for mentors, supervisors or co-drivers? If so, what type of training or qualifications?
- Should FMCSA require that participating motor carriers establish a formal apprenticeship program according to Department of Labor Standards? If so, why?
- Should there be time or distance restrictions on younger drivers? If so, what should these be and why?
- Should younger drivers have more limited hours of service, such as a maximum of 8 hours of driving each day? If so, what limits should be applied and why?
- Should younger drivers be prohibited from transporting hazardous materials, passengers, and/or operating tank vehicles or oversize/overweight vehicles? Should there be other restrictions?
- What safety standards should participating drivers have to meet? Are the requirements from the Under 21 Military Pilot program appropriate?
- What action(s) should the Agency consider taking if drivers in this pilot program are convicted of violations while operating in interstate commerce?
- At what point should FMCSA remove a driver or motor carrier from a pilot program?
- Should FMCSA include requirements for safety equipment or on-board recording systems in a pilot program for younger CMV drivers? If so, what equipment and why?
If you’d like to leave a comment please visit here, the comment period ends 07/15/2019