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FMCSA proposes pilot program to gauge safety of lowering truck driver age limits

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Washington – The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is proposing a pilot program that would allow a limited number of military veterans between 18 and 21 years old to operate a commercial motor vehicle for interstate commerce, according to a notice of proposed rulemaking published in the Aug. 22 Federal Register.

To qualify, drivers would need to have completed specific heavy-duty vehicle training in the military and be sponsored by a participating motor carrier, the notice states.

During the three-year program – required by the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act – the safety records of younger drivers would be compared to a group of drivers 21 and older who have similar training and experience to help determine if a correlation between age and safety exists.

Current rules state that CMV drivers must be at least 21 years old, and the agency has acknowledged opposition to previous efforts to lower the driver age limit. In 1975, the Federal Highway Administration concluded that most drivers younger than 21 “lack the general maturity, skill and judgment that is necessary in handling commercial motor vehicles,” the NPRM states. In 2003, FMCSA denied a pilot group petition from the Truckload Carriers Association, citing insufficient information about certain program measures.

FMCSA is seeking about 200 drivers younger than 21 for the pilot program. Participating carriers would sponsor the drivers and be required to install electronic logging devices on all vehicles operated by these drivers.

FMCSA also is proposing criteria for a working group that would offer consultation on the program, the agency stated in a press release.

Comments on the NPRM are due Sept. 21.

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