[Federal Register: February 20, 2001 (Volume 66, Number 34)]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
[FMCSA Docket No. FMCSA-2000-8410]
Younger Commercial Driver Pilot Training Program
AGENCY: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), DOT.
ACTION: Notice of receipt of proposal to initiate a pilot program;
request for comments.
SUMMARY: The FMCSA announces it has received a proposal to initiate a
pilot program to allow carefully selected, screened, trained and
monitored individuals between the ages of 18 and 21 to work in truck
driver jobs in interstate commerce. The FMCSA received the proposal
from the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) for approval of a pilot
program that would include providing each participant with an exemption
under 49 CFR part 381. The proposal is available in the public docket.
Under current regulations, a driver must be at least 21 years of age to
operate a commercial motor vehicle (CMV). We request comments on TCA's
proposed pilot program as part of our review process.
DATES: We must receive your comments by May 21, 2001. We will consider
comments received after the comment closing date to the extent
ADDRESSES: You can mail, fax, hand deliver or electronically submit
written comments to the Docket Management Facility, U.S. Department of
Transportation, Dockets Management Facility, Room PL-401, 400 Seventh
Street SW., Washington, DC 20590-0001 FAX (202) 493-2251, on-line at
Comments submitted on the web site may be
typed on-line or submitted as an attached file in one of the following
acceptable formats: (1) American Standard Code Information Interchange
(ASCII)(TXT); (2) MS Word for Mac (Versions 6 to 8); (4) Portable
Document Format (PDF); (5) Tag Image File Format (TIF); (6) Rich Text
File (RTF); or (7) Word Perfect (WPD) (Versions 7 and 8). You must
include the docket number that appears in the heading of this document
in your comment. You can examine and copy all comments at the above
address from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., e.t., Monday through Friday, except
Federal holidays. If you want notification of receipt of comments,
please include a self-addressed, stamped envelope or postcard or
include a copy of the acknowledgment page that appears after you submit
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Angeli Sebastian, Office of Bus
and Truck Standards and Operations, (202) 366-4001, or Ms. Elaine
Walls, Office of the Chief Counsel, (202) 366-1394, Federal Motor
Carrier Safety Administration, 400 Seventh Street, SW., Washington, DC
20590. Our office hours are from 7:45 a.m. to 4:15 p.m., e.t., Monday
through Friday, except Federal holidays.
Under longstanding Federal safety regulations (49 CFR
391.11(b)(1)), the minimum qualifications for a person to drive a CMV
includes a requirement that the driver be at least 21 years of age. In
its proposal, TCA states that the trucking industry has suffered from a
long-standing and chronic shortage of drivers that has led to
significant competition for drivers among trucking employers and high
turnover. TCA's proposal is available for review in the public docket.
TCA states that many trucking companies find themselves with
equipment that is unused because they cannot hire and retain enough
safe drivers. More particularly, TCA states that the Federal regulation
mandating a minimum age of 21 for interstate drivers is a barrier to
employment because the usual three-year wait after high school
graduation to enter commercial driver employment encourages potential
employees to settle in other career fields.
TCA has asked the FMCSA to approve a pilot program on behalf of
member companies who are willing to abide by the standards established
for the program. These carriers would agree to incur the expense of
providing job opportunities for drivers finishing the training program
and for close supervision and monitoring of the safety progress of the
younger drivers enrolled in the program. TCA's proposal would
allow a non-TCA member motor carrier to participate in the pilot
program if it abides by all the standards established for the program.
FMCSA Authority Concerning Pilot Programs
On June 9, 1998, the President signed the Transportation Equity Act
for the 21st Century (TEA-21) (Pub. L. 105-178, 112 Stat. 107). Section
4007 of the TEA-21 amended 49 U.S.C. 31315 and 31136(e) concerning the
Secretary of Transportation's (the Secretary's) authority to grant
waivers from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) for
anyone seeking relief from the requirements. The statute provides the
Secretary with the authority to grant waivers and exemptions.
On December 8, 1998, the agency published an interim final rule on
waivers, exemptions, and pilot programs (63 FR 67612). 49 CFR 381
subparts D, E and F (sections 381.400 to 381.600) codifies section
4007(c) of TEA-21 and explains the procedures followed by the agency
when considering proposals for pilot programs.
Section 4007 of the TEA-21 authorizes the Secretary to conduct
pilot programs to allow innovative alternatives to certain provisions
of the FMCSRs to be tested. During a pilot program, the FMCSA may grant
an exemption to approved participants. These programs may include
exemptions from one or more regulations. The FMCSA must publish in the
Federal Register a detailed description of each pilot program,
including the exemptions being considered, and provide notice and an
opportunity for public comment before the effective date of the
program. In order to approve a pilot program, FMCSA is required to
demonstrate that the safety measures in the pilot programs are designed
to achieve a level of safety that is equivalent to, or greater than,
the level of safety that would be achieved through compliance with the
safety regulations. The duration of pilot programs is limited to three
years from the starting date.
The FMCSA is required to immediately revoke participation of a
motor carrier, an operator of a commercial motor vehicle, or a driver
for failure to comply with the terms and conditions of the pilot
program, or to immediately terminate a pilot program if continuing it
is inconsistent with the goals and objectives of the safety regulations
issued under the authority of 49 U.S.C. Chapter 313 or 49 U.S.C. 31136.
These requirements are set out in 49 CFR 381.510.
The pilot program plan must include a specific data collection and
safety analysis plan that identifies a method for comparison for
determining an equivalent level of safety. A reasonable number of
participants are necessary to yield statistically valid findings. There
must also be a plan to inform State partners and the public about the
pilot program and to identify approved participants to safety
compliance and enforcement personnel and to the public. The pilot
program plan must include adequate countermeasures to protect the
health and safety of study participants and the general public. An
oversight plan must be in place to ensure that participants comply with
the terms and conditions of participation.
At the conclusion of each pilot program, the FMCSA is required to
report its findings and conclusions of the study to Congress and make
any recommendations it determines appropriate as a result of the study
(see section 4007(c)(5) of the TEA-21 and 49 CFR 381.520). This would
include suggesting amendments to laws and regulations that would
enhance motor carrier, CMV, and driver safety and improve compliance
with the FMCSRs.
Overview of the Proposed Pilot Program
On October 2, 2000, the TCA sent the FMCSA a petition for a pilot
program to allow drivers under age 21 to operate CMVs in interstate
commerce. The proposal builds on earlier work the TCA discussed with
staff at FMCSA and includes a proposed curriculum and a document
labeled ``Questions and Answers.'' The petition and these two
supporting documents are available in the public docket described under
The pilot program proposed by TCA would involve a minimum of 48
weeks of intensive classroom and driving instruction and supervision
that is designed to lead to full-time employment as an interstate
commercial motor vehicle driver in the trucking industry. Each younger
driver (18 to 21 years of age) would attend an approved truck driver
training school for a minimum of 22 weeks and receive 8 weeks of
training in a motor carrier's ``driver finishing'' program (a course of
instruction and on-the-job training offered by motor carriers that
would further develop the younger driver's basic skills, as well as
develop greater maturity and judgment, under the daily direction and
guidance of an experienced driver trainer). This would be followed by
18 weeks of team driving with an older, more experienced driver.
Younger drivers would be required to pass the performance standards of
the entire 48-week program and reach the age of 19 to begin solo
Structure of the Younger Commercial Driver Training and Exemption
The proposed plan is grounded upon a consortium of participating
schools and motor carriers that would train approximately 1000 drivers
who are under the Federal minimum age requirement of 21. TCA's proposal
stated that the number of participating schools is expected to be
The proposal includes expressions of interest from The American
Institute of Technology in Phoenix, AZ; John Wood Community College of
Quincy, IL; National Tractor-Trailer School in Liverpool and Buffalo,
NY; Allstate Career School in Lester, PA; Houston Community College in
Houston, TX; Bates Technical Institute in Tacoma, WA; and Fox Valley
Technical College in Appleton, WI. In addition, Arkansas State
University in Newport, AR, and Delta Technical Institute in Marked
Tree, AR, have submitted applications to have their driver training
courses certified as equivalent to the curriculum submitted by TCA and
developed by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI) in order to
participate in the pilot program.
A new course of instruction has been developed specifically for the
proposed pilot program. The course standards and curriculum were
developed by PDTI based on the experience, needs and challenges facing
an 18 to 20 year old driver. The proposed program involves a minimum of
48 weeks of intensive classroom and behind-the-wheel (BTW) instruction
and supervision that leads to full-time employment as an interstate
commercial driver. TCA states that it is designed to provide qualified
entry-level 18 to 20 year old drivers with a program of instruction in
the safe and responsible operation of tractor-trailer vehicles that
enables them to advance to solo drivers. The program would be nearly 4
times the length of the average entry-level truck driver training
course for students 21 and older. A regular PTDI-approved entry-level
course lasts between 6 to 8 weeks. The proposed pilot program would
require 22 weeks of instruction. The driver finishing phase for current
entry-level training programs typically lasts 4 to 6 weeks. Driver
finishing under the proposed pilot program would last 8 weeks. The
proposed pilot program adds an
additional ``team driving'' requirement for 18 weeks before the 18 to
20-year old is cleared to drive solo.
PTDI/TCA hosted a meeting of interested motor carriers, truck
driver training schools and insurance companies in Washington, DC on
March 8 and 9, 2000, to review the PTDI Standards and Requirements for
Entry-Level Tractor and Trailer courses and Certification Standards and
Requirements for Tractor-trailer Driver Finishing Programs as a
baseline for the development of the Younger Driver Program Standards.
On May 3, 2000, the PDTI Board of Directors approved the skill,
curriculum, and course standards that are included as attachment B to
the TCA proposal in the docket.
TCA expects that twenty carriers or fewer would participate in the
proposed pilot program, and the proposal includes expressions of
interest from Maverick Transportation in Little Rock, AR; P.A.M.
Transport in Tontitown, AR; Ronnie Dowdy, Inc. in Batesville, AZ;
Southern Transit in Fort Smith, AK; USA Truck in Van Buren, AR; Willis
Shaw Express in Elm Springs, AR; PGT Trucking in Monaca, PA; US Express
Enterprises in Chattanooga, TN; Schneider National Carrier, Inc. in
Green Bay, WI; Werner Enterprises in Omaha, NE; D.M. Bowman in
Williamsport, MD; and CRST in Cedar Rapids, IA.
PTDI would prepare an application to identify qualifying schools
and carriers, together with a self-evaluation report to help in the
initial school and carrier selection process. It would send final
standards and an application to interested schools and carriers in
sufficient time for them to adopt any necessary changes before the
pilot program begins. PTDI would prepare an evaluation manual for
schools and carriers.
The Eligible Student Driver
Under the proposed plan, a student would be required to meet
minimum DOT, State, Federal and/or local laws and regulations related
to physical requirements for truck drivers without any exemption
required (except age), pass a drug screening test administered by the
school, possess a driving record with no chargeable crashes (excluding
minor crashes with damage only to property), have no DOT-reportable
crashes, no serious speeding tickets (i.e., 15 miles above the posted
limit), and have no citations or convictions in connection with crashes
or traffic violations, such as, reckless driving or driving under the
influence of drugs or alcohol. Under the proposal, if a student
violates any one of the eligibility requirements in any phase of the
pilot program, the student would be expelled from the program.
In the proposal, each student would be required to be a high school
graduate, hold a high school equivalency diploma, or be determined to
have a demonstrated ``ability to benefit'' which requires passage of a
standardized test administered by the United States Department of
Education. A carrier participating in a pilot program would need to
approve a student driver's qualifications; a carrier would need to make
a conditional offer of employment when the student enters the program.
Further, the potential student driver would need to pass a screening
test, administered by a third party, that would inquire into a
potential driver candidate's behavior, aptitude, strengths and
weaknesses, and job expectations.
The Eligible School
Under the proposal, an eligible school would be required to have a
training course certified by PTDI or an equivalent course. The school
would be required to have sufficient accreditation so that younger
drivers are eligible for Federal student loans. Schools would need to
secure certification from PTDI or an equivalent certifying-body for a
new course that is designed especially for this pilot program. The new
course would incorporate instruction material that teaches life skills,
over-the-road management, financial management, and family management,
as well as advanced truck driving knowledge and skills.
Participants also would receive instruction in the U.S. Department
of Transportation's ``No-Zone'' program, which provides information on
the location of the truck's blind spots, the Federal Motor Carrier
Safety Regulations, and other valuable information about how to share
the road with other highway users.
Under the proposal, the course would last a minimum of 22 weeks (or
460 hours) and include 14 weeks (or 280 hours) of classroom instruction
as well as 8 weeks (or 160 hours) of instruction actually in the truck.
The student would spend at least 88 hours of the 160 total hours BTW,
with an additional 72 hours spent either BTW or observing the operation
of the truck by another student or course instructor. Tuition for the
school portion of the proposed pilot program could range from $4,500-
$10,000 per student.
The Eligible Carrier
Under the proposal, a carrier (employer) participating in the pilot
program would have to have a ``Satisfactory'' U.S. DOT safety rating
and a crash rate below the industry average, according to DOT
statistics. Its insurance company would have to agree to provide
coverage for younger drivers on a selective basis. The carrier would
have to agree to assure trucks operated by the younger drivers would
travel no more than 68 miles per hour and participate in a ``1-800
How's My Driving'' or comparable program that allows motorists to
report any unsafe driving behavior to the company through a toll free
number. Further, the carrier would have to agree not to allow younger
drivers to operate CMVs which would require any type of commercial
driver's license endorsement (i.e., hazardous materials, double/triple
trailers, tank vehicles, passengers) while in the program.
The proposed pilot program would last 3 years and would include the
following monitoring procedures and elements by the sponsor TCA:
1. Finishing Program. A driver finishing program is a course of
instruction and on-the-job training offered by motor carriers. The
driver finishing program offered by participant carriers in the pilot
program would have to be certified by PTDI (or an equivalent body) and
include at least 8 weeks (or 460 hours) of training with a carefully
screened, professional driver-trainer. Of the 460 hours, 288 would be
BTW hours with a trained driver. The minimum number of hours is an
average of 36 hours per week over the eight weeks of training and in
strict compliance with the hours of service requirement. The additional
172 hours could be observational or driving time. The participant
carrier would pay each student an agreed upon rate during the finishing
Under the proposal, a driver-trainer would be required to be at
least 25 years old, have at least one year of experience as a licensed
commercial driver, and during the previous 12 months, have no
chargeable/recordable crashes, have no driver out-of-service violations
and no convictions for any violations listed in the commercial driver's
license regulations (49 CFR 383.5 and 383.51). In addition, the driver-
trainer would be required to satisfy all State regulatory requirements
and any additional requirements under the carrier's safety policies and
meet all Federal or provincial motor carrier safety regulations or
other Federal or State requirements that relate to the operation of a
commercial motor vehicle. Finally, the driver-trainer would be required
to be experienced in all four seasons of
driver operations; to have completed a 3-day program on coaching and
communication skills; and to have satisfied company management, through
examination or otherwise, that he or she is qualified to be a driver
trainer in the pilot program. The carrier would be required to have a
mentoring program that would assign a mentor to the younger driver from
the first day of employment until the driver turned 21. Mentors would
receive special training; interaction between the mentor and the
younger driver would occur regularly, and mentors would be required to
be outside the direct supervisory and appraisal loop of the training.
The carrier would regularly communicate with the school regarding the
student's progress through the program.
2. Team Operations. After completion of the finishing program and
after the school and carrier agree that a student exhibits the
necessary and desirable skills and judgment, he or she would transition
to a team operation for a minimum of 18 weeks (or 720 hours of BTW).
Under the proposal, the lead team driver would have the following
qualifications: 25 years of age or older; no chargeable (excluding
minor damage to property only) or DOT-recordable crashes in the
previous 12 months; no convictions for any violations listed in
commercial driver's license regulations (49 CFR 383.5 and 383.51) in
the previous 12 months; and at least one year of experience as an over-
the-road driver in solo operations. During the team-driving phase of
the program, the younger driver would earn a salary that will be above
the minimum wage.
3. Solo Ready. Under the proposal, the carrier and school would
agree when a student, who is at least 19 years of age, is eligible to
drive solo. The carrier would monitor the driver's performance and
provide safety training every three months until the driver was 21
years of age. During the solo phase, students participating in the
pilot program could change driving jobs, but only to work for another
carrier participating in the pilot program. If a younger driver drops
out, the exemption issued under the program would be revoked, and the
student would not be eligible to drive a CMV until he or she reaches
the age of 21.
4. Monitoring and Evaluation. Under the TCA proposal, each carrier
participating in the program would provide monitoring of each younger
driver from the day the driver began team driving operations until the
driver's 21st birthday. To satisfy the monitoring requirements,
monitoring would, at a minimum, include: face-to-face meetings with the
younger driver every 3 months; monthly reviews of the younger driver's
hours-of-service logs; regular analysis of maintenance records for the
truck operated by the younger driver; and immediate temporary or
permanent suspension from driving in the event of any crashes, moving
violations, or out-of-service violations.
Carriers would follow a prescribed program to ensure, on a
continuing basis, that the younger driver possessed and exhibited the
skills and judgment necessary to operate a commercial motor vehicle
safely. Participating carriers would be required to pay specific
attention to hours-of-service compliance, out-of-service violations,
crashes, and moving violations. TCA would develop and enforce
TCA proposes that a younger driver would be temporarily removed
from the pilot program if he or she received any citation, in a
commercial or private vehicle, for speeding, driving under the
influence, or reckless driving, and permanently removed if convicted.
Any at-fault crash on public roads or highways would similarly bar a
younger driver from continued participation in the pilot program. Any
other violation or demonstrated instance of poor judgment would require
the younger driver, if he or she desires to remain in the program, to
submit to carrier or school-sponsored counseling to evaluate the
driver's attitude, behavior, judgment, and understanding of applicable
FMCSA Evaluation of the Proposal
The FMCSA has received this proposal submitted in accord with 49
CFR 381.410 and is interested in public comment on whether such a pilot
program can ensure a level of safety that is equal to or greater than
the level of safety achieved by CMV drivers 21 years of age or older
who are not otherwise subject to specialized selection, training, and
monitoring beyond that otherwise required by the CDL. The proposal
includes screening and selection, lengthy training, follow-up, and
monitoring elements. The FMCSA is interested in the specific make-up of
the proposal and any additional procedures and monitoring elements that
a commenter believes are necessary. For example, should FMCSA also
require each mentor to meet with his or her assigned younger driver no
less than once each month and for each younger driver to carry a
telephone number of a responsible trainer or monitor that can be used
by enforcement personnel if a driver or vehicle is placed out-of-
If the FMCSA determines to go forward with a pilot program, it will
propose for public comment its complete proposed pilot program,
including a monitoring program to oversee continuous compliance to meet
the requirements of the TEA-21 and our regulations.
Questions for Comment
The FMCSA is soliciting comments on TCA's proposed pilot program to
assist FMCSA in making a determination on whether it can proceed with a
complete pilot program that will meet the requirements of the TEA-21
and FMCSA regulations.
1. Does TCA's proposed pilot program meet the standards for pilot
programs outlined in the TEA-21 and FMCSA regulations (49 CFR part 381
subparts D, E and F)?
2. What factors should FMCSA consider when evaluating TCA's
proposed pilot program?
3. What methodology should the FMCSA use in determining the
appropriateness of curriculum, criteria for selection of carriers,
schools, and drivers?
4. Could TCA's proposal achieve a level of safety that is
equivalent to, or greater than, the level of safety that would be
achieved by complying with the FMCSRs?
5. Will subjecting younger drivers to more rigorous training and a
finishing program achieve a level of safety equivalent to drivers 21
years old or older who do not have to undergo such a program?
6. At what point could the FMCSA issue an exemption to a younger
driver participating in the training program?
Commenters are not limited to responding to the above questions.
Commenters may submit any facts or views consistent with the intent of
this notice. Commenters should not submit other curricula proposals or
other proposals to initiate pilot programs as part of a comment.
Issued on: February 12, 2001.
Julie Anna Cirillo,
Assistant Administrator and Chief Safety Officer.
[FR Doc. 01-4098 Filed 2-16-01; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-EX-U