Q1: Why is FMCSA doing this pilot program?
A1: FMCSA is doing this pilot program at the direction of Congress via Section 5404 of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. The FAST Act requires the Secretary of Transportation … “to establish a pilot program to study the feasibility, benefits, and safety impacts of allowing a driver under the age of 21 to operate a commercial motor vehicle in interstate commerce.” Throughout this pilot program, FMCSA will collect and analyze data relating to crashes and behaviors of participating drivers. Within one year following the completion of the pilot program, the Secretary of Transportation will forward recommendations to Congress describing the findings of the pilot program and the recommendations of a working group established to recommend possible changes in the age parameters for commercial driver's license (CDL) holders.
Q2: What is FMCSA's Under 21 Military CDL pilot program about?
A2: The pilot program will study the safety records of covered drivers with military training and experience when compared to older, non-military drivers over the study period. At the conclusion of the study, the Secretary of Transportation will submit to Congress a report describing the findings of the pilot program and the recommendations regarding the age limitations for CDL drivers.
The FAST Act defines covered drivers as:
- Those 18, 19, and 20 years old
- Members or former members of the armed forces, including Reserve and National Guard components
- Individuals qualified in a military occupational specialty, Air Force specialty code, or Navy rating to operate a commercial motor vehicle
Q3: Why can't 18-20 year-olds drive commercial motor vehicles across state lines now?
A3: Federal Regulations, specifically 49 CFR section 391.11, currently require drivers to be at least 21 years old to drive in interstate commerce. However, 49 CFR 383.71 does allow for drivers to obtain a commercial learner’s permit or CDL at 18 years old and most States allow 18, 19, and 20-year-old drivers to operate in intrastate commerce. Therefore, the pilot program provides relief from certain provisions in 49 CFR parts 383 and 391 concerning minimum age requirements for interstate commerce.