Pilot Program Could Ease Interstate Trucker Shortage

A pilot program from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) would permit younger drivers to operate commercial motor vehicles in interstate commerce with some limitations.

The administration is seeking public comments on the proposal, which would open more truck-driving jobs to 18-, 19- and 20-year-olds.

Federal regulations currently prohibit commercial drivers from crossing state lines until they turn 21. But younger professional drivers are permitted to drive long distances within their home states. In 2019, a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the House and Senate introduced the DRIVE-Safe Act, which would open up interstate trucking to drivers before they turn 21.

The American Trucking Associations and International Foodservice Distributors of America have been working together to promote the legislation. The legislation is also backed by more than 90 other national trade associations and companies. Similar legislation by the previous Congress failed to advance in 2018.

The pilot program would allow the FMCSA to “carefully examine the safety, feasibility, and possible economic benefits of allowing 18- to 20-year-old drivers to operate in interstate commerce,” said FMCSA Deputy Administrator Wiley Deck. “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.”

Currently, 49 states and the District of Columbia allow 18- to 20-year-old CDL holders to operate CMVs in intrastate commerce.

In July 2018, FMCSA launched a Military Commercial Driver Pilot Program that allows certain 18- to 20-year-olds with military training to operate CMVs in interstate commerce.

The public has 60 days to comment on the proposed pilot program as published in the Federal Register.

Source: Fleet Owner