Commercial driver pilot program a hot topic on ‘Live From Exit 24’
January 13, 2022
OOIDA Executive Vice President Lewie Pugh and host Mike Matousek were excited for the first episode of “Live From Exit 24” of the new year on Wednesday, Jan. 12.
This episode was an “open mic” format, as Matousek and Pugh answered listener emails, answered callers’ questions, and even mixed in some trivia. Two lucky callers won some neat OOIDA swag.
As the phone lines opened, Matousek and Pugh addressed concerns from listeners, notably the fast-tracking of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s under-21 commercial driver pilot program.
One caller said he considered the program a mistake to begin with but rushing it makes it even worse. Matousek pointed out that the pilot program and its fast-tracking were mandated by Congress, so the FMCSA is only implementing what they were told to do.
“We need an apprenticeship program, and we’re keeping a watchful eye on this, but we need a real apprenticeship program – one where guys get behind the wheel, do certain things, and move up – the way it’s supposed to be,” Pugh said. “Let’s hope they get it right. At least we’re talking about it, which is good.”
Another caller continued the conversation by pointing out her concerns over putting thousands of drivers under the age of 21 on the road at the same time.
“People that age are six times higher than regular drivers to have an accident in normal cars,” she said. “Now you’re putting them in an 80,000 pound vehicle?
Pugh thinks that congress and the FMCSA should be moving the age requirement in the other direction. “If anything, you should be raising the minimum age rather than lowering it,” said Pugh.
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has been vocal in its opposition of any efforts to lower the interstate driving age from 21 to 18.
“When it comes to highway safety, the data is clear – younger drivers and inexperienced drivers crash more,” OOIDA wrote in recent comments to the agency.
Another listener asked, “Why can’t truckers be paid like professional life savers?” Pugh suggested a way to improve pay: Get rid of the overtime exemption for drivers in the Fair Labor Standards Act. Matousek added that if carriers were made to pay their drivers overtime, they would also be more inclined to negotiate with shippers to eliminate down time for their drivers.
Pugh added, “The whole model is screwed up, and it has been for so long.”
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Every other Wednesday, OOIDA’s live, hourlong internet talk show brings insightful discussions on the regulatory and legislative issues that matter to truckers.