FMCSA looks to expand military under-21 pilot program

October 8, 2020

Mark Schremmer

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration 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 is scheduled to publish in the Federal Register on Friday, 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.

“Each of these proposed additions requires drivers to complete classroom and road (skills) training prior to receiving the MOS designation, as well as ongoing training and routine recertification on heavy duty vehicle operations,” FMCSA wrote in the notice. “Military personnel in these MOS receive continuous training during their service period to maintain proficiency.”

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.”

Once the notice is published in the Federal Register, the public comment period will be open for 30 days. Comments may be made at the Regulations.gov website by using Docket ID FMCSA-2016-0069.

Background

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 driver to operate interstate. This past September, FMCSA announced another pilot program for nonmilitary under-21 driversLL

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.