New Program To Allow Vets Under 21 to Drive Big-Rigs Across State Lines

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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!!


Ethan Smith HeadshotAbout the Author

Ethan Smith

Ethan is a Content Curator for Trader Interactive, serving the commercial brands Commercial Truck Trader, Commercial Web Services, and Equipment Trader. Ethan believes in using accessible language to elevate conversations about industry topics relevant to commercial dealers and their buyers.

11 thoughts on “New Program To Allow Vets Under 21 to Drive Big-Rigs Across State Lines

  1. It makes no sense at all that an 18 year old CDL holder can drive 400 miles in state but cannot drive 5 miles over a state line. This is part and partial to the driver shortage

  2. Drivers shortage is driven by pay benefits not drivers; however, let young people go to law school first… Truck driving is harmful to growth. Supporting them with hands skills is better than stressing them with time consuming truck driving

  3. IN REFERENCE TO EVERYBODY’S QUESTION IS ALL ABOUT MONEY,, Big & small care less about young men & woman’s future,, if one or the other fails, company’s just move on to another person on the hiring list,, it’s all about their bottom line & profits & losses,,,

  4. I’m against it. As a veteran, and a military vehicle trainer, I stuck with civilian protocol, and only trained those over the age of 21 to drive any vehicle requiring a CDL. There is a certain amount of experience required to handle the stress of larger vehicles transporting personnel or cargo.

    1. I disagree, I’ve trained a lot of people young & old how to drive a semi, i was a instructor at a truck driving school, if you train a person right experience will teach him the rest,, you can train a monkey to drive a truck with proper instruction,, the question is now to answer is,, How long is a driver going to be needed??? with the atamous [ self driving trucks ] are a way of the future, they are already in use,, I’ve mentioned once before how a young driver should be trained & the restrictions placed on him or her prior to them turning twenty- one follow it & i’ll bet you’ll agree that it is a perfect program,,,,,

  5. 18yr old’s truck should be limited to 60 mph only same with veterans till the age of twenty one!!! Iv’e been a semi driving school instructor & i see the perils that they go through,, also they should be limited to the hrs of 8hrs daily & ten hrs on duty & it should be enforced!!! company’s that violate this should face heavy fines 5k’s first 20k’s second third time pull their permits for 6 months, driver s who violate it first time 500.dollar fine second time 6moths suspension of driver’s lic. third time loss of cdl for one yr..or until they are twenty one.. All 18yr olds should be a credited school graduate plus 300hrs with a trainer or supervisor, speak & understand the English langue well,Any co. that is reported & found in violation by a driver shall loose it’s right to employee 18yr old driver for 5yrs. whistle blowers shall not be retaliated or black balled by any co. In other words co. can not force driver’s to violate this rule by intimation..


  7. The veteran drivers being pushed out of this hectic world and being replaced by underage drivers is good and bad what’s your opinion

  8. My Opinion is FM CSA as drove out the veteran drivers and are trying to replace him with underage people which just won’t work

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