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U.S. DOT launches pilot program to lower age requirement for commercial truck drivers

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is starting a pilot program that will allow some truck drivers under the age of 21 to drive trucks across state lines.  In Maine, you can get a commercial driver’s license (CDL) when you are 16 years old but federal regulations require you to be 21 to drive across state lines.  Only drivers who operated heavy vehicles in the military will be eligible to participate in this FMCSA pilot program.

According to the FMCSA, the “purpose of the Under 21 pilot program will be to determine whether persons under the age of 21 can safely operate CMVs in interstate commerce, and to enhance opportunities for persons with relevant military training to enter the CMV industry. While many intrastate CMV drivers are already in this age group, the Agency is not aware of any studies or published reports comparing their safety performance with that of drivers over 21, either interstate or intrastate.”

Members of Congress introduced a bill earlier this year to lower the commercial truck driving age to 18.  There is a shortage of truck drivers that has been creating problems for businesses who need trucks to ship their goods.  One way to increase the number of truck drivers would be to increase the amount of pay they make but lowering the age of drivers could also increase the number of truck drivers.

Safety advocates fear that this change will increase the number of motor vehicle accidents.  Drivers aged 16 to 19 are three times more likely than drivers over 20 to fatally crash, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.