Safe Driver Apprenticeship Pilot Program Frequently Asked Questions
The following frequently asked questions (FAQs) were developed to highlight the Safe Driver Apprenticeship Pilot (SDAP) Program. This three-year program will help individuals ages 18, 19, and 20 explore interstate trucking careers and help trucking companies hire and train new drivers through an apprenticeship pilot program. For more information about the SDAP Program visit https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safedriver.
What To Know If You Are An Apprentice…
FMCSA considers the Safe Driver Apprenticeship Pilot Program (SDAP) a top agency and Departmental priority and is working diligently to comply with federal law to establish such a pilot program before motor carrier and/or driver applications can be accepted, including the Paperwork Reduction Act and Privacy Impact Assessment processes. FMCSA will continue to update the SDAP Program webpage with milestone dates, as they become known.
Drivers must apply through an approved motor carrier. Once approved by FMCSA, participating motor carriers, including applicable contact information, will be listed on FMCSA’s program webpage. Interested drivers will be free to contact those participating motor carriers directly regarding employment/participation.
An approved motor carrier can begin to accept apprentice drivers 30 days after receiving notice from FMCSA as an approved carrier. Note, prior to accepting apprentices, approved motor carriers must already have identified experienced drivers, as defined under the SDAP Program, to supervise new apprentices.
What To Know If You Are A Motor Carrier…
FMCSA is not yet accepting applications, as the SDAP Program is still being established. FMCSA will update the Safe Driver Apprenticeship Pilot Program webpage and issue public announcements when the agency is ready to start accepting applications from motor carriers.
The SDAP Program will run for a maximum of 3 years. The program time period will start once FMCSA begins accepting applications from motor carriers.
The original Under 21 Military CDL Pilot Program, required by the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, only allowed individuals between the ages of 18 and 21, who were members (or former members) of the armed forces or reserve components and also qualified in one of seven Military Occupational Specialties to operate a CMV or similar vehicle in interstate commerce. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), Section 23022, permits any person with a current intrastate CDL and is between the ages of 18-20 years old (as defined by the program’s eligibility requirements) to drive in interstate commerce under the specific conditions outlined in the BIL, regardless of their military affiliation.
Section 391.11 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) requires drivers to be at least 21 years old to operate in interstate commerce. However, 49 CFR 383.71 does allow drivers to obtain a commercial learner’s permit (CLP) or CDL at 18 years old and operate in intrastate commerce. As a result, 49 States and the District of Columbia currently allow 18, 19, and 20-year-old drivers to operate in intrastate commerce with a CLP or CDL.
The BIL sets a limit of up to 3,000 apprentices in the SDAP Program at any point in time. New apprentices will be allowed into the pilot to replace apprentices that leave or age out to maintain a total of 3,000 participating drivers at any one time. FMCSA estimates it will need approximately 1,000 motor carriers.
Yes, a motor carrier must register and have a DOL Registered Apprenticeship number in order to participate in the SDAP Program. Carriers are not required to register with DOL prior to applying for the SDAP Program, but FMCSA will not register new carriers without a RA number. Consequently, motor carriers are encouraged to use the period prior to FMCSA opening the application process to register as a DOL Registered Apprenticeship Program, doing so may save interested carriers time in the long run.
As outlined in the Federal Register Notice that was published on January 14, 2022, to qualify for participation in the Safe Driver Apprenticeship Pilot Program, a motor carrier must meet the following standards:
- Must have proper operating authority, if required, and registration;
- Must have at least the minimum levels of financial responsibility required by the FMCSRs;
- Must not be a high or moderate risk motor carrier as defined in the Agency’s Federal Register notice titled, ‘‘Notification of Changes to the Definition of a High Risk Motor Carrier and Associated Investigation’’ published on March 7, 2016 (81 FR 11875);
- Must not have a conditional or unsatisfactory safety rating;
- Must not have any open enforcement actions (e.g., Imminent Hazard, Operations Out-of-Service (OOS) Orders, Patterns of Safety Violations) in the previous 6 years;
- Must not have a crash rate above the national average;
- Must not have a driver OOS rate above the national average; and
- Must not have a vehicle OOS rate above the national average.
A carrier must have a driver OOS rate not greater than 5.30% and a vehicle OOS rate not greater than 19.40%. The driver and vehicle OOS rates were derived from the average rates from January 1, 2021 – December 31, 2021 (source: March 2022 Safety Measurement System run). In addition, a carrier must have an average crash rate not greater than 0.96%. The crash rate was calculated using the number of crashes divided by the vehicle miles traveled. This rate represents the average across registered carriers during calendar year 2021 (January 1, 2021 – December 31, 2021). FMCSA will use these rates for the entirety of the program.
Throughout their tenure as an apprentice, drivers must operate vehicles equipped with onboard monitoring systems (OBMS) that include forward-facing and in-cab driver-facing cameras. Additionally, apprentices must be accompanied by an experienced driver in the passenger seat and operate vehicles equipped with:
- An automatic manual or automatic transmission,
- An active braking collision mitigation system; and
- A governed speed of 65 miles per hour at the pedal and under adaptive cruise.
An experienced driver who is in the passenger seat while an apprentice is operating a CMV must be recorded as “on duty, not driving” at all times.
Once the motor carrier application portal is established, FMCSA is committed to reviewing motor carrier applications and notifying them of their decision within 30 days of receipt of the application. Accepted motor carriers will be required to attend a webinar to discuss participation requirements before to enrolling drivers. These webinars will be held periodically, depending on the demand by incoming motor carriers. Although initially, webinars will be held at least monthly.