The Department of Transportation plans to launch a pilot program that would allow 18-20 year olds who have the military equivalent of a commercial driver’s license to operate large trucks in interstate commerce.
The pilot program allows a limited number of eligible 18-20 year olds who have served in the military or are current reservists or guardsmen to operate trucks in interstate commerce, provided they are sponsored by a participating trucking company. Announced by Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, the three-year program is a fulfillment of Section 5404 of the Fixing Americas Surface Transportation 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 Chao.
Safety and performance data from the 18-20 year olds will be compared to a control group of 21-24 year old drivers in order to see if there is any significant difference in performance from the youngest group of drivers currently employed in the trucking field.
Even with comparable military experience, pilot program drivers will be required to train with their fleet sponsors to close the experience gap on regulations such as records of duty status and hours of service.
After the pilot program, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will report its findings to Congress along with its own conclusions and recommendations. The information could be instrumental in amending laws which currently prevent any drivers who are younger than 21 from driving a large commercial truck in interstate commerce.
The FMCSA expects to need 70 carriers to hire at least 200 drivers and will compare that group to a control group of 200 drivers and/or intrastate drivers so that pilot program results will allow for the highest confidence level. The carriers will have to apply with the FMCSA to participate.
Information on the pilot program is scheduled to be released in the Federal Register on July 5, 2018. Before the pilot program can officially commence, the FMCSA is required by Federal statute to allow a public comment period, followed by the Agency’s published responses in the Federal Register. For more information on the U.S. DOT's Veteran transition programs, click here.