Current Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration law prohibits drivers under the age of 21 from driving heavy-duty trucks across state lines. By prohibiting young drivers from accessing interstates for regional or cross-country routes, fleets can be further limited in the midst of the ongoing driver shortage.
However, some relief should soon be on the way in the form of some of our nation’s young service-members, according to OverdriveOnline.
The 2015 FAST Act highway bill required the FMCSA to establish an under-21 pilot program for military members and veterans. This program was conceived as a potential first-step toward further decreasing driver regulations and lowering the interstate travel laws for all young drivers.
Mandated by the FAST Act, the first official plan and proposal came in the summer of 2016 and accepted comments on safety concerns. As program development continues, the agency is now collecting final comments from public and industry stakeholders as they look to submit the final program to the White House Office of Management and Budget for approval.
Currently the FMCSA plan is to include 50 fleets who hire a combined 200 military members and veterans, including members of the military reserves and National Guard, who are between the ages of 18 and 20. This group will be compared to another group of 200 military drivers between the ages of 21 and 24. The test program is expected to last 18 months.
Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao remarked, “Men and women do a great job of performing that task for the military so the question is why are they not allowed to do that same job in the civilian life… There are people who feel if you are young, you somehow will drive the vehicle in a less safe way. We do not feel like that is the case, but we don’t want to pre-judge.”
The outstanding qualities of military members combined with advancements in safety technology make decreasing the age for permitted interstate travel a welcome exploration for many in the trucking industry who recognize the need for more drivers. Others are concerned about the driving experience and abilities of younger employees, regardless of military service.
This is an ongoing issue and we want to know what you think!! Do you support lowering the driving age for transport across state lines for young military members? Should the regulation be decreased for all young drivers? Do you think the rules should stay the same? Let us know in the comments below!!