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FMCSA Collecting Information on Safety Impact of 18-21 Year-Old Drivers with Military Experience Operating CMVs

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Last week, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) published in the Federal Register two notices and a request for comment pertaining to a proposed pilot program to allow persons ages 18-21 with military driving experience to operate commercial motor vehicles in interstate commerce.

As background information, FMCSA proposed a pilot program in August 2016 to meet the requirements contained in the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. FMCSA proposed a pilot program to allow a limited number of individuals ages 18, 19, and 20 to operate commercial motor vehicles in interstate commerce if they have received specified heavy-vehicle driver training while in military service and were hired by a participating motor carrier.

At the time there were 67 comments submitted to the docket; 40 favored the pilot program and nine opposed it. The remaining 18 comments were a form letter asking the Agency to either expand the current pilot program or initiate a new one for drivers aged 20 and under who are engaged in agricultural operations. This request is outside the scope of the requirements of the FAST Act. Supporting organizations included the National Propane Gas Association, American Trucking Associations (ATA) and the Truckload Carrier Associations (TCA). The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) was neutral on the pilot program, and sought further clarification. To no one’s surprise, safety advocates comprised the bulk of the opposition, who stated that younger drivers are more likely to crash and they fail to “yield useful data to determine if all 18-20-year-old drivers can safely operate a CMV.”

The first notice FMCSA published last week lays out details of the proposed plan, which will likely change after the information collection request is completed. It also includes comments received to the August 2016 notice mentioned above. A few highlights of the plan include:

  • FMCSA expects to need 70 motor carriers to hire at least 200 covered drivers with 200 control group drivers and/or 200 intrastate drivers to gain valuable data and conclusions.
  • Motor carriers must meet several qualifications to participate, including:

- Proper operating authority;
- Minimum levels of financial responsibility;
- Must not be a high or moderate risk motor carrier;
- Must not have a conditional or unsatisfactory safety rating;
- Must not have any open or closed enforcement actions within the past 6 months;
- Must not have a crash rate above the national average;
- Must not have a driver OOS rate above the national average; and
- Must not have a vehicle OOS rate above the national average

  • Interested drivers must obtain from their commanding officer, or the official designee, certification that the applicant had formal training and experience in the operation of heavy motor vehicles while in military service.
  • FMCSA will review both monthly and data submitted by approved motor carriers and its own databases (SMS, L&I, etc.) and reserves the right to remove any motor carrier or driver that fails to meet the requirements.
  • The pilot program will last three years, but may conclude sooner if there is sufficient data to analyze the safety of covered drivers.

The second notice FMCSA published last week is a required information collection request that must be completed on the details and requirements of the pilot program and approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

If you have any questions, please contact TIA Advocacy at advocacy@tianet.org or 703-299-5700.


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