September 15, 2020
On May 15, 2019, FMCSA published a notice requesting comments on a possible new pilot program to allow drivers aged 18, 19, and 20 to operate commercial motor vehicles in interstate commerce. That notice asked specific questions regarding training, qualifications, driving limitations, operational and participation requirements, insurance, research and data, and vehicle safety systems that should be considered for younger drivers.
The new notice addresses the comments received, proposes a pilot program, and requests comments.
After the May 2019 notice FMCSA received 1,118 comments to the docket, with 504 of those being in favor of the proposal and 486 of those being opposed to the proposal. Other commenters offered conditional support, provided responses to the questions posed in the notice, or offered other suggestions.
Using the input from commenters to the 2019 notice, FMCSA is proposing to allow drivers to participate in a younger driver pilot program if they fall within one of the following categories:
Category One: While taking part in a 120-hour probationary period and a subsequential 280-hour probationary period under an apprenticeship program, established by an employer.
Category Two: A proposal to permit 19 and 20-year old drivers who have operated CMVs in intrastate commerce for a minimum of 1 year and 25,000 miles to participate in the younger driver program. These drivers would not be required to complete any probationary periods.
To have a statistically valid sample FMCSA is saying that they need approximately 200 drivers aged 18 – 20 for the pilot program. Once a driver reaches 21 years old they would no longer be able to participate in the pilot program, but would need to be replaced by another younger driver.
FMCSA also proposes to limit the types of vehicles a driver in the pilot program may operate. Study drivers would not be able to operate vehicles hauling passengers, hazardous materials, or special configuration vehicles such as doubles, triples, or cargo tanks.
Comments must be submitted by November 9, 2020. For a full copy of the notice, to find information on how to file comments, and to see other requirements of the pilot program, click here.