Under-21 interstate pilot program for military vets enters next phase

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is now accepting applications for its pilot program for 18-to-21-year-old military truck drivers.

The pilot program will allow a limited number of under-21 drivers with the military equivalent of a CDL to operate across state lines. Currently, drivers between the ages of 18 and 20 are forbidden from operating interstate, but can operate intrastate.

Drivers participating in the pilot will also need to sponsored by or hired by a participating fleet.

U.S. DOT Secretary Elaine Chao says the program will help military veterans and reservists transition into good-paying jobs while also helping the trucking industry recruit and retain drivers.

As part of the pilot, FMCSA will compare the safety records of the under-21 drivers in the program to a control group of drivers ages 21-24 with CDLs and comparable training and experience driving trucks. The agency says this will help determine whether age is a critical factor in driver safety.

The program is expected to last for up to three years. Information for drivers interested in participating in the program can be found here. Information for carriers who want to participate can be found here. FMCSA says it expects to need approximately 70 carriers to hire at least 200 participating drivers and provide at least 200 control group drivers.

FMCSA will keep a list of approved carriers and participating drivers for law enforcement, and participating drivers will be required to carry a copy of an exemption letter from the agency to the approved carrier to present to law enforcement during inspections.

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