Section 5404 of the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act requires the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to establish a pilot program to study the feasibility, benefits, and safety impacts of allowing a covered driver to operate a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) in interstate commerce. A covered driver is an individual who is 18, 19, or 20 years old; a member of the armed forces or reserve components; and qualified in a military occupational specialty (MOS) to operate a CMV or similar vehicle.
In August 2016, the FMCSA issued a Federal Register Notice titled, “Commercial Driver's Licenses; Proposed Pilot Program to Allow Persons Between the Ages of 18 and 21 with Military Driving Experience to Operate Commercial Motor Vehicles in Interstate Commerce.” The purpose of the notice was let the public know that FMCSA was proposing to initiate a pilot program. This pilot program would allow a limited number of individuals between the ages of 18 and 21 to operate CMVs in interstate commerce if they have received specified heavy-vehicle driver training while in military service and are sponsored by a participating motor carrier. During the pilot program, the safety records of these younger drivers (the study group) would be compared to the records of a control group of comparable size, comprised of drivers who are 21 years of age or older and who have comparable training and experience in driving vehicles requiring a commercial driver's license (CDL). The comparison of the two groups' performance would help to determine whether age is a critical safety factor. The FMCSA also proposed criteria for a working group to consult with the Agency in conducting, monitoring, and evaluating the pilot program; outlined procedural steps and a data collection plan; and requested comments on these elements.
The purpose of the Under 21 pilot program will be to determine whether persons under the age of 21 can safely operate CMVs in interstate commerce, and to enhance opportunities for persons with relevant military training to enter the CMV industry. While many intrastate CMV drivers are already in this age group, the Agency is not aware of any studies or published reports comparing their safety performance with that of drivers over 21, either interstate or intrastate.
How will it work?
This pilot program will utilize a study group of drivers under the age of 21, who have trained on and operated heavy vehicles while in military service. Because many service personnel leave active duty while close to or over the age of 21, it is likely that most study group members would be military reservists or National Guard members. Persons who meet the qualifications may apply to a participating motor carrier for study group sponsorship, which, if approved, would allow the individual to operate a CMV in interstate commerce for that carrier before age 21.
To have a statistically valid sample of drivers under the age of 21, the FMCSA must have a minimum number of drivers in the study group. When these individuals reach the age of 21, they would no longer participate in the pilot program and would be replaced by new study group members meeting the eligibility requirements.
Drivers who hold the MOS rating or enlisted AFSC classifications listed below will be eligible to participate in the Pilot program.
Eligible Military Branch and Military Occupational Specialties
US Marine Corps