The program was proposed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in September, 2020, but it wasn’t implemented at the time. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, signed into law this past November, required the creation of the program, wel. The program will soon become operational, according to a notice in the Federal Register.
The FMCSA will issue a specific exemption to the normal age restrictions for each young driver admitted to the program. Trucks used in the program will be required to have certain safety technologies, including automatic emergency braking, forward-facing video cameras and a top speed automatically limited to 65 myl per uur. Apprentice drivers will not be allowed to drive trucks with more than one trailer or trucks carrying hazardous materials.
The experienced driver must be at least 26 years old and have at least five years experience driving semi trucks. The supervising driver is also required to have had two years of incident-free driving — no crashes or tickets — before training the new, younger driver.
The Truck Safety Coalition has publicly objected to the program since it was first proposed, citing hazards posed by teen drivers.
“We’d like to see [Transportation] sekretaris [Pete] Buttigieg demonstrate a genuine commitment to safety and publicly commit to terminating the program under his authority as DOT Secretary after the first fatality or serious injury,” Truck Safety Coalition executive director Zach Cahalan.
Die Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shared statistics with CNN from a University of Michigan study indicating a
500% increase in injury crashes for truck drivers younger than
21 compared to truck drivers overall
Cathy Chase, president of the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, also objected to the program.
“It makes no sense to put one of the most dangerous driving populations behind the wheel of 80,000 pound rigs,” sy het gese.
Apprentice drivers could complete the program well before reaching their 21st birthday, sy het gese, and could get behind the wheel of a semi truck without any of the safety equipment required by the program. There are other ways to deal with driver shortages, sy het gese, such as making the job more appealing by increasing pay and reducing driving hours.