Motor carriers interested in participating in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Learner Driver Safety Pilot Program can now apply to be accepted into the program.
FMCSA announced the creation of its apprenticeship pilot program in January 2022, as required by the infrastructure employment and investment laws.
On July 25, FMCSA hosted an informational webinar for those interested in participating and/or learning more about the program.
Who is eligible, what is required and a general overview of the program were part of the session.
OOIDA opposed any move to lower the minimum age for interstate commercial driving from 21 to 18, saying it would have an effect negative effect on safety.
Additionally, the motivation for lowering the driving inception age is the assertion that there is a shortage of truck drivers, and OOIDA maintains that there is no shortage.
The Infrastructure Bill authorized the three-year pilot program for drivers between the ages of 18 and 20. Calling it a watered down version of the DRIVE-Safe Act, OOIDA opposed the provision. However, the Association recognizes that the provision reinforces the requirements for trainers and includes a study on driver compensation and its effect on safety.
To participate in the program, a learner driver must be 18, 19 or 20 years old, hold a commercial driver’s license and be employed by a licensed carrier.
The learner driver must complete two probationary periods with an experienced driver. This experienced driver must be at least 26 years old with five years of interstate experience and no travel violations or preventable accidents in the past two years.
The first trial period must include 120 hours of service and at least 80 hours of driving, while the second includes 280 hours of service and at least 160 hours of driving.
Learner drivers are prohibited from driving commercial vehicles with passengers, hazardous materials and special configurations. Additionally, apprentices are not permitted to drive a commercial vehicle weighing more than 80,000 pounds.
Motor carrier requirements include appropriate operating authority, a minimum level of financial responsibility, an accident rate below the national average, and no open enforcement action in the previous six years, to name a few. some.
Motor carriers must also be registered with the Department of Labor Registered Apprenticeship Program.
Finally, commercial vehicles driven by trainees under the program must be equipped with an on-board monitoring system with forward and cabin-facing cameras, an automatic or automated manual transmission and a monitoring system. active collision mitigation under braking, and must be governed at 65 mph at the pedal and in adaptive cruise.
FMCSA accepts online apps road hauliers interested in participating in the apprenticeship programme, which must last a maximum of three years (until July 2025).
Part of this application process will include providing information on driver turnover as well as the compensation structure.
Before a motor carrier enrolls a learner driver in the program, they must enroll an experienced driver.
The agency is looking for up to 1,000 motor carriers and 3,000 apprentices to participate in the program. Once the number of 3,000 is reached, future apprentices will be added as drivers age or leave the program.
Related: TRUCKING ORGS DIVIDED OVER UNDER-21 APPRENTICESHIP PROGRAM
How the FMCSA will draw conclusions about safety was among the top questions asked.
“We want to make this program as safe as possible and ensure it meets the current level of safety on our roads,” said Michel. “Much of the technology required for learner drivers is very common in the industry today.”
Questions on subsidies, tax credits, recruitment and selection of experienced drivers were also addressed.
There are no government funds available to employers participating in the program and no tax credits are in place to help with the increased cost of insurance.
However, Jamie Bennett, a program analyst for the US Department of Labor, said employers should contact fast port – the transport and logistics intermediary of the Ministry of Labor – to see what means are available to them.
Recruitment of learner drivers will be the responsibility of the motor carrier.
Experienced drivers will be screened upon acceptance into the program by the FMCSA. However, it will be the carrier’s responsibility to report any violations in the future. The FMCSA will not review pilots on a regular basis.
Full FMCSA Informational Webinar Available here.
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