Under-21 Interstate Drivers Getting Serious Look By FMCSA

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DaveW's Comment
member avatar

After running a pilot program for the last 10 months allowing under-21-year-old drivers with military experience to drive big rigs interstate , the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced this week it is seeking public comment on potentially opening up interstate highways to non-military drivers 18 through 20 years old as well.

Under-21 interstate drivers getting serious look by FMCSA

CSA:

Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA)

The CSA is a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) initiative to improve large truck and bus safety and ultimately reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities that are related to commercial motor vehicle

FMCSA:

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

The FMCSA was established within the Department of Transportation on January 1, 2000. Their primary mission is to prevent commercial motor vehicle-related fatalities and injuries.

What Does The FMCSA Do?

  • Commercial Drivers' Licenses
  • Data and Analysis
  • Regulatory Compliance and Enforcement
  • Research and Technology
  • Safety Assistance
  • Support and Information Sharing

Interstate:

Commercial trade, business, movement of goods or money, or transportation from one state to another, regulated by the Federal Department Of Transportation (DOT).

Dm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

Fm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Rick S.'s Comment
member avatar

Not sure how I feel about this.

Actually - the article discusses NON-MILITARY DRIVERS being allowed to drive - after the 10 month program for military drivers.

Some of the questions that come to mind (not to diss vets, as I am one also) is: how much military experience can someone have if they are under 21 (even assuming the parents signed for them to enlist at 17)?

What the "industry" is seeking to do - is recruit out of high schools. I know a few younger drivers that are pretty good. But NEITHER OF MY KIDS ARE. My youngest (28) still sucks, and I wouldn't lend him my car, much less want him behind the wheel of a rig.

Even with most states licensing cars at 16 - not sure that under-21's have enough of a track record of safe driving, to consider putting them behind the wheel solo interstate.

OTOH - this is attractive to the industry, because there are plenty of burger-flipping 18-somethings, that would jump at the opportunity to make $45-60K a year right out of high school.

This follows the weird trend we're going though in this country (politically), where we are considering stuff like: 16 year olds are "mature enough" to vote, but not drink or buy a firearm.

If you want to drop off a year, to 20 - for a driver that got his license at 16 and has a clean record, I might be up to consider it. OTOH - the number of 16 year olds that have their own vehicles and have enough miles under their belt is also, yet another story.

I started following the Grateful Dead around, when I was 16, and had 1,000's of cross country miles under my belt, by the time I turned 18.

So I guess I am "kinda sure" about how I feel. Since there's really no way to distinguish with CERTAINTY, the experience of an 18 year old - I'd still like to see the 21 year old, and licensure experience requirements left in place.

The "driver shortage" issue, isn't really a matter of "legal requirements" to drive. Much of it is the "retention issues" related to the working conditions and pay. Much of it is that trucking is NOT FOR EVERYONE, and a lot of people don't understand that it is a LIFE/LIFESTYLE and just can't hack it.

While younger drivers may be "more trainable" (that is, don't have years of bad habits to unlearn), more amenable to putting up with the lifestyle in return for (what they perceive as) "big bucks", they still lack the life experience and maturity (for the most part), to be entrusted with the MOTORING PUBLICS SAFETY.

Rick

Interstate:

Commercial trade, business, movement of goods or money, or transportation from one state to another, regulated by the Federal Department Of Transportation (DOT).

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Rubber Duck's Comment
member avatar

This would be a great first job for any kid comming out of high school. I wouldn’t want my 18 yo driving a truck though. I would worry to death about him. He just started driving a car. No way I want him driving a truck.

Sid V.'s Comment
member avatar

Just plain hilarious.

This will benefit nobody but the mega carriers. Small fleets could never afford the insurance to hire an 18 yr old.

Why does military experience matter? Just more rationalizing a bad idea.

There isn't a shortage of truck drivers, there's a shortage of truck drivers willing to drive for slave wages.

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Sid wrote:

Just plain hilarious.

This will benefit nobody but the mega carriers. Small fleets could never afford the insurance to hire an 18 yr old.

Why does military experience matter? Just more rationalizing a bad idea.

There isn't a shortage of truck drivers, there's a shortage of truck drivers willing to drive for slave wages.

The mega carrier's insurance rates and liability costs will also increase significantly. IMO this benefits only the driers of that age that could qualify.

Overall I am not in favor of this, I see how the average 18 year-old drives. Just increases the risks involved for all of us with an already very dangerous job.

And Sid, please stop with the slave wage reference. You know we don't tolerate comments like that. Besides it's a ridiculous notion, unsupported by any tangible facts. Pay is based on performance, good or bad. First year is a paid apprenticeship. PERIOD.

We all started at basically the same level and place. I do not recall being treated or paid like a slave.

*not-like

PackRat's Comment
member avatar

Just plain hilarious.

Why does military experience matter? Just more rationalizing a bad idea.

Perhaps an aptitude for greater responsibility? Great observations, Sid.

DaveW's Comment
member avatar

The FMCSA considers military experience that qualifies one for under-21 driving to be experience driving a similar type of military vehicle as a commercial vehicle in the private sector. They have the equivalence of CDL training, and a military rating equivalent to a Class A license.

IOW, as far as FMCSA is concerned, the MOS of a cook, or even infantry, for example, would not itself qualify that person for the under-21 program. Most coming into that program would likely have been in military logistics.

This previous TT article has the information about it.

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

CSA:

Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA)

The CSA is a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) initiative to improve large truck and bus safety and ultimately reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities that are related to commercial motor vehicle

FMCSA:

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

The FMCSA was established within the Department of Transportation on January 1, 2000. Their primary mission is to prevent commercial motor vehicle-related fatalities and injuries.

What Does The FMCSA Do?

  • Commercial Drivers' Licenses
  • Data and Analysis
  • Regulatory Compliance and Enforcement
  • Research and Technology
  • Safety Assistance
  • Support and Information Sharing

Fm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.
Big T's Comment
member avatar

I'm a little torn on this. I understand the maturity arguments and insurance arguments, but not from a reality (not sure what word I'm looking for) perspective.

It is already legal for 18 - 20 to drive intrastate. An 18 yr old can legally drive a CMV from Los Angeles to Sacramento because it is in the same state, but cannot drive from Los Angeles to Phoenix because they cross an imaginary line drawn on a map.

CMV:

Commercial Motor Vehicle

A CMV is a vehicle that is used as part of a business, is involved in interstate commerce, and may fit any of these descriptions:

  • Weighs 10,001 pounds or more
  • Has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more
  • Is designed or used to transport 16 or more passengers (including the driver) not for compensation
  • Is designed or used to transport 9 or more passengers (including the driver) for compensation
  • Is transporting hazardous materials in a quantity requiring placards

Intrastate:

The act of purchasers and sellers transacting business while keeping all transactions in a single state, without crossing state lines to do so.

Bruce K.'s Comment
member avatar

I'm a little torn on this. I understand the maturity arguments and insurance arguments, but not from a reality (not sure what word I'm looking for) perspective.

It is already legal for 18 - 20 to drive intrastate. An 18 yr old can legally drive a CMV from Los Angeles to Sacramento because it is in the same state, but cannot drive from Los Angeles to Phoenix because they cross an imaginary line drawn on a map.

Very good point. I never considered this issue before so I find this discussion interesting.

CMV:

Commercial Motor Vehicle

A CMV is a vehicle that is used as part of a business, is involved in interstate commerce, and may fit any of these descriptions:

  • Weighs 10,001 pounds or more
  • Has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more
  • Is designed or used to transport 16 or more passengers (including the driver) not for compensation
  • Is designed or used to transport 9 or more passengers (including the driver) for compensation
  • Is transporting hazardous materials in a quantity requiring placards

Intrastate:

The act of purchasers and sellers transacting business while keeping all transactions in a single state, without crossing state lines to do so.

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar
There isn't a shortage of truck drivers, there's a shortage of truck drivers willing to drive for slave wages

Well isn't that an interesting comment? Sid, why don't you talk a little bit about these "slave wages" people are making in trucking? I can talk all day along about how rookies are averaging $45,000+ these days and solid drivers with two or three years experience are getting $70,000+

Do you consider those wages to be slave wages? I sure as hell don't.

By the way, that was a rhetorical question. I don't actually want to hear anymore garbage.

I think allowing people under the age of 21 to drive a truck is absolutely insane. There's no way some 18 year old kid is ready for that level of responsibility. They've only been driving a car for two years and haven't the faintest clue about risk management. If you look at the statistics for car crashes, young inexperienced drivers are exponentially more dangerous than the rest. So now we're going to put them in big rigs? Absolutely not.

Besides, it's not going to solve the problem of a driver shortage in the least. Trucking isn't a young man's game to begin with. The average age of truckers nationwide is around 50 years old. Now if the industry was saturated with 20 somethings then I'd say that maybe we'll see an increase in drivers by lowering the age even further. But we're not even getting 20 somethings. We're certainly not going to get teenagers.

I think lowering the Interstate age to 18 is a terrible idea that would quite obviously make the highways infinitely more dangerous without solving any problems whatsoever.

Of course if 18 year olds are responsible enough to drive an 80,000 pound building on wheels surrounded by innocent families on our highways then using that logic they're certainly old enough to drink, right? So let's just open up the floodgates. Let 18 year olds buy liquor and drive big rigs. Maybe that will be even better!

Idiots.

Interstate:

Commercial trade, business, movement of goods or money, or transportation from one state to another, regulated by the Federal Department Of Transportation (DOT).

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

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