FMCSA takes step toward under-21 apprenticeship program

January 6, 2022

Mark Schremmer

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is taking a procedural step toward creating an apprenticeship pilot program for under-21 drivers.

An information collection request regarding the program is scheduled to publish in the Federal Register on Friday, Jan. 7.

An under-21 apprenticeship program was included in the recently passed Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. FMCSA has labeled the information collection request as an “emergency” and has asked for comments to be submitted within five days of being published in the Federal Register.

“The notice is a more of a procedural action that requires the White House Office of Management and Budget to approve how DOT and FMCSA will gather information during the pilot program,” said Jay Grimes, OOIDA’s director of federal affairs. “Many of the details outlined in the notice were specified in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. However, the emergency approval request indicates that FMCSA wants to launch the pilot program fairly quickly. OOIDA maintains our concerns regarding the program and cautions the agency against letting under-21 drivers operate in interstate commerce without establishing necessary safeguards.”

OOIDA has opposed any measures to reduce the minimum interstate commercial driving age from 21 to 18, saying it would have a negative effect on safety.

In addition, the motivation for lowering the driving creation age is the assertion that there is a shortage of truck drivers, and OOIDA argues that there is no shortage.

The infrastructure bill authorized a three-year pilot program for 18-to-20-year-old drivers. Calling it a watered-down version of the DRIVE-Safe Act, OOIDA opposed the provision. However, the Association noted that the provision does strengthen trainer requirements and includes a study looking at driver compensation and its effect on safety.

Once the notice is published in the Federal Register, the public will have five days to comment. To do so, go to the Regulations.gov website and enter docket No. FMCSA-2022-0002. LL

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.