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FMCSA to expand under-21 program for ex-military drivers

Proposal would open pilot project to another 30,000 service members

FMCSA looking to open military driver pilot to another 30,000 people. (Photo: Master Sgt. Ryan C. Matson)

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is expanding its Under 21 Military Commercial Drivers License (CDL) Pilot Program in a change that it says will open the project to another 30,000 service members.

In a proposal scheduled to be published Friday, the agency is asking for public comment on the modification that will expand the Military Occupational Specialties (MOS) that under-21 drivers were engaged in during their military service to give more service members the opportunity to transition to commercial driving jobs. 

“These additional MOS are being included at the recommendation of the Army and Marine Corps to provide additional service members with the opportunity to transition to commercial driving jobs,” FMCSA stated in its proposal.

“These additional MOS were not included previously because FMCSA was not aware that these classifications received heavy-vehicle training and recurrent training equivalent to the training the original MOS receive. By increasing the MOS, FMCSA anticipates there will be an additional 30,000 drivers between the ages of 18 and 21 who are eligible to participate.”

Former FMCSA Administrator Ray Martinez acknowledged at a congressional hearing last year that getting at least 200 drivers signed up for the project – the number envisioned when the project was announced in 2018 – could be difficult.

As of Sept. 29, 33 trucking and other companies engaged in interstate truck operations had been approved by FMCSA to hire drivers for the pilot. Werner Enterprises [NASDAQ: WERN], UPS [NYSE: UPS] subsidiary UPS Freight, Knight-Swift [NYSE: KNX] and Prime Inc. are among the largest trucking companies participating.

The three-year pilot, which began last summer, compares participating driver safety records to those of a control group to help determine whether a driver’s age is a critical safety factor.

A related pilot program that would open CDLs to nonmilitary drivers has so far received over 1,700 comments. Comments for that program are due Nov. 9.

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John Gallagher

Based in Washington, D.C., John specializes in regulation and legislation affecting all sectors of freight transportation. He has covered rail, trucking and maritime issues since 1993 for a variety of publications based in the U.S. and the U.K. John began business reporting in 1993 at Broadcasting & Cable Magazine. He graduated from Florida State University majoring in English and business.