If granted, Pitt Ohio estimates that 25 CLP holders would operate under the exemption each year. But more would like to see FMCSA broaden the exemption for all participating companies.
On Feb 22, FMCSA announced that it received an application from Pitt Ohio Express, LLC (Pitt Ohio) to exempt its drivers from one of the requirements in the Agency’s Safe Driver Apprenticeship Pilot (SDAP) program.
As part of the SDAP program, Pitt Ohio is requesting to use drivers under the age of 21 with a Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP) to operate commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) in interstate commerce.
These CLP holders would still need to meet all the remaining apprentice requirements, as well as the existing regulatory requirements for CLP holders, specifically that there must always be a trainer in the cab during the training and interstate driving.
If granted, Pitt Ohio estimates that 25 CLP holders would operate under the exemption each year.
Should this be approved? Go make your voices heard by commenting on or before March 27, 2023.
Why was the SDAP program started?
The trucking industry is relying more on drivers in the 45 to 54-year-old age group.
According to the American Trucking Associations (ATA), the driver shortage may exceed 100,000 drivers by 2023 based on projected freight growth, industry retirements, and competition from other industries.
“We need to find ways to expand the pool of safe truck drivers, and ATRI’s preliminary research indicates that safe, younger drivers can be found, “said Joyce Brenny, Brenny Transportation, Inc. CEO in 2020.
The organizations that favored the pilot program in the September 2020 Federal Register notice included:
- American Trucking Associations
- Commercial Vehicle Training Association
- International Foodservice Distributors Association
- National Association of Chemical Distributors
- National Grocer Association, National Retail Federation
- Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
- Truckload Carriers Association,
- Numerous private citizens, motor carriers, training schools, State trucking associations, State Drivers Licensing Agencies, and other professional trade associations
How will the trucking industry measure young driver safety risk?
Data from the Department of Transportation (DOT) indicated that individuals under 24 years of age represented 18.4 percent of drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2017 while representing just 11.8 percent of the licensed driving population that year.
The new Safe Driver Apprenticeship Pilot Program will allow interstate transportation for people 18 to 20 years old who have a state-issued CDL with a clean record.
Before an approved motor carrier can allow an apprentice to operate under the Safe Driver Apprenticeship Pilot Program, FMCSA reviews the driver’s safety performance history against its systems and will issue an exemption for each driver.
The exemption allows the driver to operate in interstate commerce while participating in the pilot program despite being under 21 and having a “K” restriction on their CDL.
In the program, the young professional drivers must complete at least 400 hours of on-duty time and 240 hours of driving time:
- accompanied by an experienced driver
- in an automatic or automatic manual transmission truck
- with automatic emergency braking
- forward-facing video cameras, and
- top speed limited to 65 miles per hour
The 400 hours is split into two probationary periods.
120-Hour Probationary Period
During the 120-hour probationary period, the employing motor carrier must ensure the apprentice:
- Completes 120 hours of on-duty time, of which not less than 80 hours shall be driving time in a CMV; and
- Is competent in each of the following areas: Interstate, city traffic, rural 2-lane, and evening driving; safety awareness; speed and space management; lane control; mirror scanning; right and left turns; and logging and complying with rules relating to hours of service.
280-Hour Probationary Period
After the 120-hour probationary period, the motor carrier must ensure the apprentice completes a 280-hour probationary period. The employing motor carrier must ensure the apprentice:
- Completes 280 hours of on-duty time, of which not less than 160 hours shall be driving time in a CMV; and
- Is competent in each of the following areas: Backing and maneuvering in close quarters; pre-trip inspections; fueling procedures; weighing loads, weight distribution, and sliding tandems; coupling and uncoupling procedures; and trip planning, truck routes, map reading, navigation, and permits.
After that, until they turn 21, they will be able to drive by themselves but under continuous monitoring by trucking companies, including monthly safety performance reports filed with FMCSA.
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