FMCSA to Allow 1,000 Motor Carriers to Participate in New Teen Trucker Program
Washington D.C. — The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is providing additional details about its forthcoming controversial teen trucker program.
In a Federal Register notice on Thursday, the Agency said it will allow up to 1,000 motor carriers to participate in the upcoming three-year study, which will allow drivers as young as 18-years-old to operate a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) in interstate commerce.
The FMCSA has dubbed the initiative the “Safe Driver Apprenticeship Pilot Program” (SDAPP) and will allow for as many as 3,000 apprentices ages 18, 19, and 20, to participate at any one time.
The SDAPP was approved as part of the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) signed into law late last year.
Transportation Nation Network (TNN) previously reported many of the details which the FMCSA formalized today, such as drivers will be required to complete two probationary periods totaling 400 hours of on-duty time as well as 240 hours of driving time.
A driver of at least 26 years of age and having at least five years of interstate driving experience (along with a clean driving record for the previous two years) must accompany the apprentice in the passenger seat at all times.
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As TNN recently reported, the Agency is seeking “emergency approval” from the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to begin both a 60-day and a 30-day public comment period.
Motor Carrier Requirements
Each motor carrier seeking to participate must apply to the FMCSA and will be approved based on a host of factors such as its safety and vehicle maintenance history, which the Agency said it will select “only those with the highest or best relative performance.”
Participating carriers must also notify the Agency within 24 hours of:
1) Any injury or fatal crash involving an apprentice;
2) An apprentice receiving an alcohol-related citation in any vehicle (e.g., driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated);
3) An apprentice choosing to leave the pilot program;
4) An apprentice leaving the carrier; or
5) An apprentice failing a random or post-crash drug/alcohol test.
Participating carriers are also required to submit monthly data on an apprentice’s driver activity (e.g., vehicle miles traveled, duty hours, driving hours, off-duty time, or breaks), safety outcomes (e.g., crashes, violations, and safety-critical events).
The Agency acknowledged such reporting requirements would favor larger carriers and disadvantage smaller companies due to the complexity and cost of compliance, but concluded the reporting is “necessary to inform the final report on the pilot program.”
Additionally, carriers must also register an apprenticeship program with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) in order to qualify for consideration.
Under-21 Apprentice Requirements
For those seeking to participate as an apprentice, the Agency outlined basic qualifications for consideration.
An apprentice may not participate in the Safe Driver Apprenticeship Pilot Program if during the two-year period immediately preceding the date of hire, the driver:
1) Had more than one license (except for a military license);
2) Had his or her license suspended, revoked, cancelled or disqualified for a violation related to 49 CFR 383.51 in any State;
3) Had any conviction for a violation of military, State, or local law relating to motor vehicle traffic control (other than parking violation) arising in connection with any traffic crash and have no record of a crash in which he/she was at fault; or
4) Had been convicted of any violations described below in any type of motor vehicle:
A) Had been under the influence of alcohol as prescribed by State law;
B) Had been under the influence of a controlled substance;
C) Had an alcohol concentration of 0.04 or greater while operating a CMV;
D) Refused to take an alcohol test as required by a State under its implied consent laws or regulations as defined in 49 CFR 383.72;
E) Left the scene of a crash;
F) Used the vehicle to commit a felony;
G) Drove a CMV while his or her CDL is revoked, suspended, cancelled; or he or she is disqualified from operating a CMV;
H) Caused a fatality through the negligent operation of a CMV (including motor vehicle manslaughter, homicide by motor vehicle, or negligent homicide);
I) Had more than one conviction for any of the violations described below in any type of motor vehicle;
– Drove recklessly, as defined by State or local law or regulation (including offenses of driving a motor vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property);
– Drove a CMV without the required CDL;
– Violated a State or local law or ordinance on motor vehicle traffic control prohibiting texting while driving; or
– Violated a State or local law or ordinance on motor vehicle traffic control restricting or prohibiting the use of a hand held mobile telephone while driving.
Removal From The Program
Motor carriers will be removed from the program for failure to maintain levels of safety and failure to provide the required monthly reporting.
As for the drivers, the Agency noted if at any time while participating, an apprentice is disqualified for a major offense, serious traffic violations, railroad-highway grade crossing violation, or violation of an out-of-service order, as outlined in Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR), he or she will be removed from the program.