The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is proposing and seeking public comments on a new pilot program to allow drivers aged 18, 19, and 20 to operate commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) in interstate commerce.
“This action will allow the agency to carefully examine the safety, feasibility, and possible economic benefits of allowing 18 to 20-year-old drivers to operate in interstate commerce,” Wiley Deck, FMCSA’s deputy administrator, said in a news release. “Safety is always FMCSA’s top priority, so we encourage drivers, motor carriers, and interested citizens to review this proposed new pilot program and share their thoughts and opinions.”
FMCSA’s Federal Register notice requests comments on a new pilot program that would allow younger drivers to operate in interstate commerce. The agency proposes a pilot program to allow drivers to participate if they fall within two categories: 1) 18 to 20-year-old commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders who operate CMVs in interstate commerce while taking part in a 120-hour probationary period and a subsequent 280-hour probationary period under an apprenticeship program established by an employer, or 2) 19 and 20-year-old commercial drivers who have operated CMVs in intrastate commerce for a minimum of one year and 25,000 miles. The study group drivers would not be allowed to operate vehicles hauling passengers, hazardous materials, or special configuration vehicles.
Currently, 49 states and the District of Columbia already allow 18 to 20-year-old CDL holders to operate CMVs in intrastate commerce — meaning under-21 drivers may currently drive within state borders, such as from Houston to El Paso, Texas, or from Miami to Tallahassee, Fla.
As School Bus Fleet previously reported in 2017, Tennessee raised the minimum age for new school bus drivers in the state from 21 to 25. The new law, which went into effect in Jan. 2018, stemmed from the fatal 2016 school bus crash in Chattanooga in which six students were killed and 31 were injured. The school bus driver involved in the Chattanooga crash was 24 years old.
In July 2018, FMCSA announced the details of a Military Commercial Driver Pilot Program, which allows certain 18- to 20-year-olds with military training to operate CMVs in interstate commerce.