New programs are developing in the trucking industry to test the abilities of drivers under the age of 21, in hope of opening a new market of professional truck drivers. It is currently legal for drivers as young as 18 years old to hold a CDL and travel intrastate, however they are not able to cross state lines or transport materials originated from another state.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has launched an Under 21 Military CDL Pilot Program in order to test whether drivers under 21 years of age are as safe as those over 21 years of age. This study has the potential to open laws and regulations to allow professional truck drivers under the age of 21, to travel interstate with commodities from various origins.
This pilot program will hold two driver groups:
- Study Group – Drivers aged 18, 19 and 20 currently enlisted in a branch of The United States Military with one of seven specific military occupations. These drivers must be eligible to operate in intrastate commerce.
- Control Group – Drivers aged 21, 22, 23 and 24 currently enlisted in The United States Military with one of seven specific military occupations. These drivers must be eligible to operate in interstate commerce.
While drivers will age out of the pilot program upon turning 21 years old, carriers may continue to employ these drivers.
J & M Tank Lines is one of 23 motor carriers accepted into this pilot program and one of few which specializes in Dry-Bulk commodities with operations in the Southeastern United States.
Military occupations that are currently eligible are:
- 88M – Motor Transport Operator
- 92F – Petroleum Supply Specialist
- Air Force
- 2T1 – Vehicle Operations
- 2F0 – Fueler
- 3E2 – Pavement and Construction Equipment Operator
- Marine Corps
- 3531 – Motor Vehicle Operator
- EO – Equipment Operator
The FMCSA states that drivers must meet all requirements, except for age, for operating a CMV in interstate commerce. Drivers are not allowed to transport passengers or hazardous materials, nor operate special configuration vehicles; such as double or triple trailer combination or cargo tank vehicles.
Carrier members are required to provide monthly data submissions for each study or control group driver in addition to immediate reporting for accidents, convictions, alcohol or drug related incidents, leaving the company or leaving the pilot program.