FMCSA wants to expand military under-21 pilot program

November 2020

Mark Schremmer

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The FMCSA is proposing to expand the number of people who can participate in its pilot program for under-21 drivers with a military background.

In a notice that published in the Federal Register on Oct. 9, FMCSA plans to expand the number of military occupational specialties that are eligible for the pilot program.

The pilot program, which allows some military veterans and reservists who are under 21 to operate a commercial motor vehicle in interstate commerce and was mandated by the FAST Act, previously limited the program to those who had training in seven military occupational specialties.

  • Army: 88M Motor Transport Operator; 92F Fueler.
  • Marine Corps: 3531 Motor Vehicle Operator.
  • Navy: EO Equipment Operator.
  • Air Force: 2TI Vehicle Operator; 2FO Fueler; 3E2 Pavement and Construction Equipment Operator.

FMCSA’s proposal would create nine additional eligible military occupational specialties.

  • Army: 12B Combat Engineer; 13B Field Artillery; 13P MLRS (Multiple Launch Rocket System); 88H Transportation Cargo; 14T Patriot Launching Station Operator.
  • Marine Corps: 3537 after 3531 achieves the rank of Staff Sgt.; 0811 Field Artillery Cannoneer; 1371 Combat Engineer; 1345 Engineer Equipment Operator.

OOIDA Executive Vice President Lewie Pugh said he would like to see results from the original group of eligible participants before the pilot program is expanded.

“As someone who received Motor Transport Operator training and was grandfathered in for a commercial driver’s license through the U.S. Army, I do have personal experience on this front,” Pugh said. “I personally think that before we start expanding this study to others who didn’t take the Complete Motor Transport Operator Training course, which was five weeks when I served, we should first see some results from those fine men and women who have.”

The public can comment on FMCSA’s plan until Nov. 9. Comments may be made at the Regulations.gov website by using Docket ID FMCSA-2016-0069.

The pilot program was created by a mandate in the FAST Act. As part of the pilot, the safety records of these drivers will be compared to the records of a control group of drivers.

While supportive of job opportunities for U.S. military veterans, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has urged caution about the program opening the door to allow more under-21 drivers to operate interstate. In September, FMCSA announced another pilot program for nonmilitary under-21 drivers.

“OOIDA is proud to have approximately 50,000 military veterans as members and supports government initiated programs that promote veterans entering the trucking profession,” the Association wrote in comments it submitted in 2018. “OOIDA agrees that military experience often lends itself to a successful career within the industry. However, we have some reservations about lowering the age of drivers to address a perceived driver shortage.” LL

Mark Schremmer

Mark Schremmer, senior editor, joined Land Line in 2015. An award-winning journalist and former assistant news editor at The Topeka Capital-Journal, he brings fresh ideas, solid reporting skills, and more than two decades of journalism experience to our staff.