On September 4, 2020, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced a proposed pilot program that would allow a limited number of 18-20 year old drivers to operate commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) in interstate commerce. This would be a departure from the existing driver qualification requirements for interstate drivers, which currently mandate that drivers be at least 21 years old.
Announcing the proposal, FMCSA Deputy Administrator Wiley Deck commented:
This action will allow the Agency to carefully examine the safety, feasibility, and possible economic benefits of allowing 18 to 20-year-old drivers to operate in interstate commerce. Safety is always FMCSA’s top priority, so we encourage drivers, motor carriers, and interested citizens to review this proposed new pilot program and share their thoughts and opinions.
The proposed pilot program would authorize two separate groups of under-21 drivers to operate in interstate commerce: (1) 18 to 20-year-old commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders who operate CMVs in interstate commerce while taking part in a 120-hour probationary period and a subsequent 280-hour probationary period under an apprenticeship program established by an employer, or 2) 19 and 20-year-old commercial drivers who have operated CMVs in intrastate commerce for a minimum of one year and 25,000 miles. The study group drivers would not be allowed to operate vehicles hauling passengers or hazardous materials or special configuration vehicles.
The proposal would expand the FMCSA's existing pilot program that allows 18-20 years olds with prior military driving experience to operate CMVs in interstate commerce. Additionally, as noted in the FMCSA's announcement, "49 states and the District of Columbia already allow 18 to 20-year-old CDL holders to operate CMVs in intrastate commerce—meaning under-21 drivers may currently drive within state borders, such as from Houston to El Paso or from Miami to Tallahassee."
The FMCSA is currently accepting comments to the proposal through November 9, 2020 in docket number FMCSA-2018-0346.