Have thoughts on under-21 drivers? Make your voice heard

November 2020

Wendy Parker

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Back in May 2019, FMCSA published a Federal Register notice requesting public comments on a possible new pilot program to allow drivers ages 18, 19 and 20 to operate commercial motor vehicles in interstate commerce.

Current regulations allow 18- to 20-year-old drivers to operate in intrastate commerce.

This past September, FMCSA published a new notice addressing the comments received and asking for more comments about a proposed pilot program to allow 18-, 19-, and 20-year-old drivers to operate commercial motor vehicles in interstate commerce.

You can comment on the latest notice by going to the Regulations.gov website and entering Docket No. FMCSA-2018-0346-1124. The comment period ends Nov. 9.

Here’s my comment: Get these damn kids off my lawn.

The end.

I’m joking. (A little bit.)

OOIDA made their stance on the under-21 issue clear from the beginning – the first comments before we were asked to make comments about comments, if you will. Keep up.

It’s not a great idea.

“There’s absolutely no reason whatsoever that FMCSA needs an under-21 pilot program to discover what decades and decades of highway safety data has proven – younger drivers and inexperienced drivers crash more,” said Jay Grimes, OOIDA’s director of federal affairs. “This program will no doubt lead to more crashes, injuries, and fatalities involving large trucks.”

And considering that the sole purpose of the FMCSA is to enhance highway safety, you can see why it’s not a great idea to turn younglings out for thousands of miles at a time.

Oh, I hear you in the back. I hear you yelling about how far it is from Houston to El Paso, Texas – and guess what?

I agree.

Intrastate isn’t how the learner’s limits should be set because the United States has weird boundaries. Some states are huge and some are tiny. Instead of making an entire rule bad because we don’t like straight lines, why not limit the number of miles-per-day for the newbie drivers?

It’s a thought, and it’s also one of the specific questions the FMCSA would like you to explore in your comments about the comments on the proposed pilot program. They would also like for you to mention any additional safeguards they might employ to keep innocent families from being crushed on the highway while unknowingly sharing the lanes with a “pilot” program driver as a guinea pig.

So. Here we go. The time is now to comment. It’s your chance to actually be heard by the folks who make these rules. LL

Prepass