The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is urging caution for any expansion of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s pilot program allowing truck drivers under 21 to participate in interstate commerce.
FMCSA is currently running a pilot program that allows 18-20 year olds with experience driving trucks in the military to drive in an interstate capacity. IIHS published a regulatory comment about any possible expansion to the pilot program that would include non-military truck drivers under 21, saying that it should wait for the results of the first pilot program before proceeding.
IIHS stated that it would be prudent for FMCSA to wait and implement any lessons learned from the first pilot and also suggested that it might take the opportunity to study 18-20 year olds who currently drive commercial vehicles in state so that the effects of driver age on crash risk can be better known.
That study would require FMCSA to obtain crash and exposure data from states and take into consideration how to separate the inherent risk from all inexperienced drivers or from drivers in more accident prone industries from the risks of younger age, so that the data is more conclusive.
Furthermore, IIHS said that if FMCSA decides to go forward with an expansion anyway and not conduct a study, it should only choose drivers with substantial experience driving large trucks in intrastate commerce for the expanded pilot program. This includes drivers with a clean record free from accidents, moving violations, or out-of-service violations that IIHS stated is a known risk factor for interstate truck crashes.
“In summary, IIHS believes it would be premature of FMCSA to propose another pilot program allowing 18- to 20-year-olds to drive large trucks in interstate commerce,” concluded Eric Teoh, IIHS senior statistician on behalf of the organization. “IIHS encourages FMCSA to take the steps of learning from the results of the pilot program of 18- to 20-year-olds with military trucking experience and conducting basic research on crash risk and driver age among intrastate CDL holders.”