Do you consider the idea of a truck driver under the age of 21 able to drive from Redding, California to San Diego to be okay, but traveling from Kansas City, Missouri to Kansas City, Kansas as unsafe to be an absurd notion? The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is inclined to agree, and is accepting applications for carriers to start an apprenticeship program and hire young adults to learn how to cross state lines.
The Safe Driver Apprenticeship Pilot Program is accepting applications from both younger drivers and carriers that want them, so that it may match them together. Currently, the FMCSA is targeting the initiative to have 3,000 young drivers and 1,000 carriers.
The program does not allow younger drivers to cross state lines immediately: there are two probationary periods totaling 400 driving hours where the younger driver must be accompanied by a mentor who:
- Is age 26 or older.
- Has five years of driving experience under his belt.
- Has been employed for the last two years.
- Has a spotless driving record of no preventable accidents or pointed moving violations.
Additionally, the trucks the younger drivers must use are to be equipped with the latest in safety technology, to both reduce the chances of an accident and to mitigate damage should an accident occur.
Finally, a younger driver who participates in the program will have to send monthly safety performance report updates to the FMCSA until he or she turns 21.
If you are a motor carrier interested in hiring younger drivers and are willing to invest the 400 hours of training, you can apply at the FMCSA application page.
The subject of allowing younger truck drivers to travel nationwide is a touchy subject in the trucking industry, with some saying that it may increase the rate of accidents that occur in trucks. This may be the case were a trucker to travel across the entire I-80, but oftentimes state lines can interfere with typical-length routes. By holding these younger drivers to a high standard before giving them the green light, hopefully the FMCSA can both keep safety its top priority while reinvigorating the trucking industry, all while assuaging fears of greater risk of accident.
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