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FMCSA Answers Concerns Regarding Under-21 Pilot Program



FMCSA recently responded to a number of comments filed as part of the public comment period for the new Safe Driver Apprenticeship Pilot (SDAP) which will allow certain 18-to 20-year-old drivers to deliver nationwide. The comment period ends on June 17.. Of the 144 comments received thus far, 134 comments were from individuals while 10 comments were from organizations, associations, or motor carriers.

A total of 31 comments supported the SDAP, which consisted of 25 individuals and 6 organizations, associations, or motor carriers.

A total of 102 comments were opposed to the SDAP, which consisted of 98 individuals and 4 organizations, associations, or motor carriers. The majority of these comments cited previous studies showing age as a factor in safe driving performance, concerns that drivers would not be compensated properly, or that the industry would “take advantage” of younger drivers.

A total of 11 comments, all from individuals, were neutral towards the SDAP.


RECOMMENDATION

Extend the probationary period to 6 months.


RESPONSE

While there is no prohibition toward individual carriers, or even individual drivers on a case-by-case basis having the probationary period extended, FMCSA has decided this would fundamentally alter the intention behind section 23022 of the IIJA and therefore has not included this recommendation as part of the pilot program design.


RECOMMENDATION

Require additional performance benchmarks, such as mountainous driving.


RESPONSE

FMCSA does not consider mountainous driving to be broad enough to be required by all apprentices, as some may never require mountainous driving. These additional performance requirements should be considered at the discretion of each carrier and experienced driver to impart the knowledge required for apprentices operating in each unique circumstance.