Veterans, military members and reservists between the ages of 18 and 21 are allowed to conduct commercial motor vehicle interstate trips through the creation of a commercial driver pilot program.
The new provision is in Section 5404 of the recently signed Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act.
The five-year FAST Act was signed into law by President Barack Obama on Dec. 4. The bi-partisan legislation passed the U.S. House of Representatives on Dec. 3 by a vote of 359-65 and the Senate later that same day by a vote of 83-16. The 1,300-page legislation authorizes federal surface programs through fiscal year 2020, providing $305 billion for roads, bridges and mass transit.
Previous law allowed truck drivers younger than 21 years old to conduct trips within many states, but they weren’t allowed to cross state lines. This measure creates an exemption for truck drivers with a military background.
A driver participating in the pilot program will not be allowed to transport passengers or hazardous cargo, or operate a vehicle in special configuration.
Many supporters of the measure see it as a way to combat a driver shortage.
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association views the allowance of teenage drivers as “misguided.”
“While we appreciate the effort to attract military veterans into the trucking profession, lowering the driving age for a commercial drivers license is misguided,” OOIDA Director of Government Affairs Laura O’Neill-Kaumo said. “Driver retention problems should be solved in other ways as opposed to expanding the pool of available drivers to include teenagers.”