Government seeks input on under 21 driver program

Photo credit: Jim Allen/FreightWaves

Photo credit: Jim Allen/FreightWaves

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has extended its comment period concerning its possible pilot program that would allow non-military drivers under 21 to drive commercial vehicles across state lines. 

The previous July 15 deadline has been pushed back to August 14, giving people an extra month to submit comments to the administration about the program. The extension came after a request from the American Trucking Associations (ATA).

FMCSA requested comments on a pilot program that would allow people between the ages of 18 and 20 to move freight across state lines last summer. The pilot that is up for comments now is a seperate program for people ages 18-20 without military training.

Adults under 21 are already allowed to haul freight within state boundaries. The push to allow younger drivers to move between states is not new. It is also the basis of the DRIVE-Safe Act, which is currently caught up in Congress.

The DRIVE-Safe Act would require young drivers to go through additional structured training and two probationary periods. It would also impose restrictions on the types of freight these drivers could haul and the types of safety technology they must have in their trucks. 

Supporters of the legislation hope that grabbing students straight out of high school will increase the number of overall drivers and build up a pool of younger drivers to replace older drivers as they begin to retire. 

In preparation for its possible pilot program, FMCSA is seeking comments about the training, qualifications, driving limitations and vehicle safety systems it should consider in developing the program.

Those qualifications and limitations could differ from those listed in the current iteration of the DRIVE-Safe Act, but some overlap is to be expected.

Click here to learn how to submit a comment.