Insurance institute cautions about under-21 interstate truckers

July 19, 2019

Tyson Fisher


The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is the latest group to weigh in on a pilot program to allow nonmilitary under-21 drivers to operate trucks in interstate commerce. Essentially, IIHS encourages the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to do more homework before turning in this assignment.

In comments submitted to FMCSA on July 10, IIHS told FMCSA Administrator Ray Martinez that if the administration moves forward with an under-21 pilot program, “then every possible safeguard should be implemented to offset the risk posed by young drivers.” IIHS suggested two steps before establishing the program.

First, IIHS believes that FMCSA should wait for the results of a separate pilot program for 18- to 20-year-olds with military trucking experience. IIHS has already warned about the dangers of using those results to make sweeping generalizations about all younger drivers. However, the institute still wants to see the results of the military program before moving forward with a more general under-21 pilot program.

Second, IIHS encourages FMCSA to do some research and look into crash risk by age among drivers with CDLs driving intrastate. Considering drivers 18-and-older can drive trucks for intrastate commerce, FMCSA can get a glimpse of what to expect before having to implement a pilot program.

“Certainly, such a study would have limitations, but FMCSA has the appropriate industry and technical expertise to deal with such issues,” IIHS stated in comments.

IIHS also suggests the following requirements for under-21 CDL holders to drive interstate:

  • Substantial experience driving large trucks in intrastate commerce.
  • Clean driving record, including no crashes, no moving violations and no roadside inspection violations that resulted in a truck placed out of service.

Regarding experience, IIHS suggests at least a year behind the wheel driving intrastate would be reasonable. Also, the institute suggests imposing a minimum number of miles driven unsupervised to eliminate any candidates that simply possessed a CDL but never really used it.

“In summary, IIHS believes it would be premature of FMCSA to propose another pilot program allowing 18- to 20-year-olds to drive large trucks in interstate commerce,” IIHS told FMCSA. “IIHS encourages FMCSA to take the steps of learning from the results of the pilot program of 18- to 20-year-olds with military trucking experience and conducting basic research on crash risk and driver age among intrastate CDL holders.”

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is against the continued efforts to allow younger truck drivers to cross state lines, saying it would lead to a decrease in safety and allow large motor carriers to pay lower wages.

“OOIDA naturally has concerns about efforts by large motor carriers to allow teenagers to become interstate drivers,” said Collin Long, OOIDA’s director of government affairs. “First and foremost, research and data has consistently indicated that younger drivers are less safe behind the wheel than their older counterparts.”

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FMCSA extends comment period on pilot program for under-21 drivers