Only days remain to comment on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s final plan to start its under-21 military driver pilot program.
FMCSA published a notice on Nov. 27 that it was submitting the program for White House clearance. Comments will be accepted until Dec. 28.
In July, the FMCSA issued a notice of proposed information collection regarding a pilot program to allow truck drivers with military experience aged 18, 19, and 20 to drive in interstate commerce. Current regulations require drivers to be at least 21 years old in order to operate a commercial motor vehicle across state lines. The agency plans a three-year pilot program. The program puts the performance of 18- to 20-year-olds with military truck driving experience up against 21- 24-year-olds. The agency will collect data on crashes, moving and inspection violations, and safety-critical events.
The goal is to help determine how training and experience affect the safety of the 18- to 20-year-old driving population.
OOIDA filed formal comments about the pilot program on Sept. 4.
“OOIDA is proud to have approximately 50,000 military veterans as members and supports government initiated programs that promote veterans entering the trucking profession,” the Association wrote. “OOIDA agrees that military experience often lends itself to a successful career within the industry. However, we have some reservations about lowering the age of drivers to address a perceived driver shortage.”
While ATA and others continue to talk about the trucking industry facing a driver shortage, OOIDA contends that the problem has to do with large fleets’ inability to retain drivers. A recent report from the ATA said the turnover rate for large truckload carriers was 94 percent.
“Previous research has shown that most drivers under the age of 21 ‘lack the general maturity, skill and judgment that is necessary in handling commercial motor vehicles,’” OOIDA wrote. “While military experience may offset these scientific findings, the structure of the proposed pilot program will make it difficult to determine safety performance of under-21 veteran drivers compared to the rest of the industry.”
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