The FMCSA is looking for comments on the training, qualification and safety issues that should be considered for this second pilot program. It is specifically looking for available safety data on 18- to 20-year-old drivers who operate commercial vehicles in intrastate commerce, where drivers this age are currently allowed to operate.
This is an effort years in the making. The FMCSA said it was petitioned to consider this change as far back as October 2, 2000 when the Truckload Carriers Association asked the agency to consider such a pilot. The FMCSA held a public comment period the next year and received 1,600 comments, with 90% of them opposed to the idea on the basis younger drivers lack the maturity for the job, the agency explained in its Federal Register posting.
"None explained how interstate drivers under 21 would diminish safety when most States have concluded that intrastate drivers under 21 do not do so," FMCSA said of the 2001 comments. "Very few truck drivers and motor carriers commented, but most of them also opposed the pilot program." The petition was denied in 2003.