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6/11/2003
SPECIAL REPORT: FMSCA says no dice to young driver program

It's too much of a gamble just now to allow 18- to 20-year-old drivers to operate trucks in interstate commerce, the FMCSA ruled July 9.

The agency denied a Truckload Carriers Association petition that proposed a pilot program to allow drivers 18 to 20 years of age to drive trucks in interstate commerce under certain conditions. Under current federal regulations, such drivers must be at least 21 years of age.

FMCSA said it took the action because it did not have sufficient information at this time to determine whether the safety measures in the pilot program were equal to that provided by complying with the minimum 21-year age requirement to operate a commercial motor vehicle.

The pilot program proposed by TCA on Oct. 2, 2000, would screen candidate drivers, train them at approved truck-driving schools and provide an apprenticeship with an approved motor carrier until age 21.

FMCSA said the denial should not be construed as a rejection of the argument that screening, training and mentoring could improve the safety performance of younger CMV drivers.

The agency received 1,634 comments in response to the proposal. More than 90 percent of the comments were opposed to the pilot program. The most common reason given by those opposed to the younger commercial driver pilot training program was that younger drivers do not have the level of maturity or the driving experience necessary to operate a CMV in interstate commerce.

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