Under 21 Military CDL Pilot Program
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is preparing to implement the Under 21 Military CDL Pilot Program. Below is a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs).
1. Why is FMCSA doing this pilot program?
2. What is FMCSA’s Under 21 Military CDL pilot program about?
3. What are the limitations placed on drivers operating in the pilot?
4. Why can’t 18-20 year olds drive a commercial motor vehicle across State lines now?
5. What training and experience does the military give these eligible drivers?
6. Is this pilot program limited to military veterans?
7. How long is the pilot program?
8. How many companies and drivers will be involved?
9. How does a company participate in the pilot program?
10. What are the responsibilities of the participating covered drivers?
11. What are the responsibilities of the volunteer (control group) drivers?
12. How will FMCSA announce the program is active?
13. How will the pilot/control and intrastate drivers be evaluated for safety under the pilot?
14. When will FMCSA kick off the pilot?
15. What do State Driver Licensing Agencies (SDLAs) have to do to prepare of this pilot program?
16. What are the administrative procedures for a carrier accepted in the pilot?
17. Will applicants with dishonorable discharge be allowed to participate in the pilot program?
18. How will law enforcement officials be notified of the drivers and motor carriers participating in the pilot?
19. If a motor carrier or driver is not complying with the standards set forth by FMCSA, what action will the FMCSA take?
If you have a question which has not been answered within our FAQs, please feel free to email your question(s) to Under21Pilot@dot.gov.
We look forward to hearing from you.
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 FMCSA …” “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 1 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 to be established.
The pilot program will study the safety records of covered drivers with military training and experience when compared to older, non-military drivers. 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.
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
- Qualified in a Military Occupational Specialty to operate a commercial motor vehicle
Covered drivers may not transport passengers, hazardous materials, or operate double- or triple-trailer combinations or cargo tank vehicles while participating in the pilot program, regardless of any license endorsements held.
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 (CLP) 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.
Four branches of the Department of Defense (DoD) – Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps – provide extended training dedicated to operating heavy-duty trucks and buses. Additional training for other types of heavy-duty specialty vehicles (e.g., gasoline haulers, construction vehicles, and military equipment transport oversize/overweight [non-track vehicles]) are also provided from these service branches.
The basic training programs for heavy vehicle operations, based on the military occupational specialty (MOS) code of the service member were reviewed by both FMCSA and the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators and determined to be equal to, or greater than, the standards required for a civilian CDL applicant.
The MOS, rating, or job skill for each military branch approved for the pilot program include:
- Army - 88M; Motor Transport Operator
- Army - 92F; Fueler
- Air Force - 2F0; Fueler
- Air Force - 2T1; Vehicle Operations
- Air Force - 3E2 - Pavement and Construction Equipment
- Marine Corps - 3531; Motor Vehicle Operator
- Navy - EO; Equipment Operator
Details on these programs are in the Federal Register Notice announcing the program.
No, the pilot program is open to veterans, members of the National Gaurd and reserve components of the military.
The pilot program is expected to run for 3 years.
Although there is no limit to the number of carriers that may apply to participate in the program, the FMCSA expects to need 70 motor carriers to hire at least 200 covered drivers, 200 control group drivers, and/or 200 intrastate drivers for statistically valid data.
When FMCSA kicks off the pilot program, there will be an announcement on the Agency’s website at www.fmcsa.dot.gov/Under21Pilot. Interested motor carriers will be required to:
- Complete the application;
- Agree to supply control group drivers in numbers matching the number of covered drivers to be employed;
- Agree to comply with all pilot program procedures and requirements listed in the Federal Register
- Agree to submit required pilot program data reports monthly;
- Monitor and report safety records of covered and control group members as required by FMCSA; and
- Have and maintain a good safety record in accordance with the prescribed criteria to be both admitted to and remain in the pilot program.
When a carrier has met the qualifications, and has been accepted to the Pilot program, it will be listed on the FMCSA Under 21 Pilot Program website. Covered drivers will be directed to the website and may apply to any approved carrier on the list.
Interested covered drivers will be required to:
- Be 18, 19, or 20 years of age as of the date they are approved by FMCSA for participation;
- Apply for employment directly to an approved pilot program carrier listed on the FMCSA website;
- Have certification from a military service of training and experience in driving heavy vehicles while in military service;
- Agree to the release of specific information to FMCSA for purposes of the pilot;
- Meet all Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations requirements (except age) for operating a CMV in interstate commerce; and
- Operate primarily in interstate commerce if hired.
Participating carriers accepted in to the pilot program will be required to provide drivers to serve in the control group at the same number of drivers as in the pilot:
- Control drivers will be made aware they are being monitored during the pilot;
- Possess a valid CDL;
- Ages 21 to 24 at time of acceptance in the pilot program;
- Have no disqualifications, suspensions, or license revocations within past 3 years; or be under any out-of-service order; and
- Sign a release form indicating they understand that FMCSA will be collecting data on their driving history as a part of the study.
FMCSA will announce that the program is active through its Under 21 Pilot Program website. We will also work with the Department of Defense, all branches of the military plus the Chiefs of the Reserve and National Guard components to promote the pilot program.
How will the will the pilot/control and intrastate drivers be evalutated for safety under the pilot?
FMCSA will collect the following information from each participating covered and control group driver during the pilot program:
- Details of any past CMV driving experience and demographic information, to assess qualification for participation in the study and/or control groups;
- Any traffic citations or warnings received while driving a CMV; and
- Any violations or warnings listed on a CMV inspection report when the participating driver was operating the vehicle.
It is anticipated that FMCSA will begin to accept applications from carriers who wish to participate in the pilot in early 2019. Once a carrier is accepted in to the pilot program, information regarding that carrier will be posted on the FMCSA Under 21 Military CDL Pilot Program website. Drivers under 21 years of age who meet the prescribed criteria will be able to apply for employment with the accepted companies
SDLAs will not be required to make any legislative, regulatory, or programming changes for these carriers and drivers.
- Carriers will apply for acceptance to the Under 21 Military CDL Pilot Program through the FMCSA website.
- FMCSA will review the application against the criteria in the July 2018 Federal Register Notice.
- If accepted, employing carriers will screen all covered driver applicants verifying experience and qualifications with the appropriate military personnel as specified in the application process
- Carriers will provide personnel information for control drivers already hired by the
- Carriers will provide regular safety data to FMCSA
- Carriers will notify FMCSA immediately when a driver admitted to the pilot program is fired, resigns, is transferred or removed from the company as a driver for any reason.
No, military personnel who were dishonorably discharged are not eligible to participate in the pilot program.
How will law enforcement officials be notified of the drivers and motor carriers participating in the pilot?
FMCSA will maintain a list of approved motor carriers and covered drivers in its Query Central system. In addition, the covered drivers will be required to carry a copy of the exemption letter from FMCSA to the approved motor carrier and present the letter during inspections or other encounters with law enforcement.
If a motor carrier or driver is not complying with the standards set forth by FMCSA, what action will the FMCSA take?
Safety is FMCSA’s number one priority. If at any time during the pilot program, a motor carrier or driver is not complying with the standards, FMCSA may remove the motor carrier and/or driver from the pilot program.