In the last few years, the number of younger truck drivers has been decreasing, according to a recent study by the American Transportation Research Institute. This means the trucking industry is relying even more on drivers in the 45 to 54-year-old age group.
According to the American Trucking Associations, in 2019 the trucking industry was lacking about 60,800 drivers at the end of 2018 and the industry could be short more than 100,000 drivers in five years if conditions don’t change.
In hopes to increase the share of younger drivers in the industry, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) proposed an under-21 commercial driver pilot program allowing young drivers aged 18, 19, and 20 to operate commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) in interstate commerce. Currently 18 to 20-year-olds are only allowed to operate intrastate commerce.
The FMCSA is requesting comments on the program that would allow:
- 18 to 20-year-old commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders who operate CMVs in interstate commerce while taking part in a 120-hour probationary period and a subsequent 280-hour probationary period under an apprenticeship program established by an employer, or
- 19 and 20-year-old commercial drivers who have operated CMVs in intrastate commerce for a minimum of one year and 25,000 miles.
The drivers in the pilot program would not be allowed to haul passengers or hazardous materials or special configuration vehicles.
This pilot program comes after a 2019 military recruitment program that is studying the details of allowing 18 to 20-year-olds with military CDL-equivalent training to operate CMVs in interstate commerce.
This military pilot program will be expanding the military positions allowed as an effort to provide additional younger service members with opportunities in trucking, according to a notice scheduled for publication in the Federal Register on Oct. 9.
The new roles include combat engineer, field artillery cannoneer and Patriot launching station operator from the originally approved roles as motor transport operator, fueler, and pavement and construction equipment operator.
The new roles were not included previously because FMCSA was not aware these classifications required heavy vehicle training.
DOT Compliance Services
Our compliance specialists can assist with a number of needs related to hiring and training new drivers including CDL training, new and ongoing driver training and even managing your driver qualification files.
Whether you are a large trucking company that is on-boarding drivers quickly or a construction outfit with multiple trucks in your fleet, you need to stay aware of FMCSA regulations.