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FMCSA wants comments on possible 2nd pilot program for 18- to 20-year-olds

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Poll shows nine in 10 americans support bill leading to younger drivers in interstate commerce
FMCSA requests comments on the training, qualifications, driving limitations, and vehicle safety systems that FMCSA should consider in developing options or approaches for a second pilot program for younger drivers. (The Trucker file photo)

WASHINGTON — The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Tuesday said it is seeking public comment on a potential pilot program that would allow drivers ages 18-20 to operate commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) in interstate commerce.

“Commercial trucks and buses are essential to a thriving national economy, and the department wants to ensure the public has an opportunity to comment on this important potential change,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.

Drivers ages 18-20 may currently only operate CMVs in intrastate commerce.

In July 2018, USDOT announced the details of the Commercial Driver Pilot Program required under the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, which allows certain 18- to 20-year-olds with military training to operate CMVs in interstate commerce.

Tuesday’s action requests comments on a second pilot program to allow non-military drivers ages 18-20 to operate CMVs in interstate commerce.

FMCSA requests comments on the training, qualifications, driving limitations, and vehicle safety systems that FMCSA should consider in developing options or approaches for a second pilot program for younger drivers.

“We want input from the public on efforts that offer the potential to create more jobs in the commercial motor vehicle industry, while maintaining the highest level of safety.  We encourage all CMV stakeholders to submit comments on a potential interstate pilot program for younger drivers,” said FMCSA Administrator Raymond P. Martinez.

Support for a pilot program among the general population dates back to October 2, 200, when the Truckload Carriers Association, petitioned the FMCSA to conduct a younger driver pilot program.

Motor carriers, truck driver training schools, a trade association and an insurance company joined in the petition asking FMCSA to authorize a pilot program to determine if CMV drivers under age 21 could operate CMVs safely in interstate commerce.

The petitioners said that this pilot would address the shortage of CMV drivers in the trucking industry. The petitioners also asserted that recruiting young persons as truck drivers would be easier if they could be approached immediately after graduation from high school.

In February 2001, the FMCSA published a notice requesting comments on the TCA petition and received 1,600 comments with more than 90 percent opposed, most of the basis that  individuals under 21 lacked the maturity and judgment to operate a commercial motor vehicle and on June 9, 2003, the FMCSA denied the petition.

TCA still strongly supports a pilot program, said David Heller, vice president of government affairs at TCA.

His association believes the pilot study is crucial in determining the safety performance of younger drivers.

“If you look at interstate commerce, I can stand on top of TCA’s roof and look into D.C. and turn 90 degrees and look into Maryland, but if I’m a younger driver, I can’t drive into those areas,” Heller said, “but I can drive into the far southwest corner of Virginia, which in and of itself a long haul. In saying that, what is truly the line of demarcation. So once and for all let’s glean data to show and prove whether they can be safe. This is an effort to collect the data that can verify whether these drivers are as safe or safer in those magical words that truly matter. As safe or safer than their seasoned counterparts.”

Should in the end drivers under 21 be allowed to drive interstate, there would be a whole new demographic from which carriers could recruit.

Just because a new demographic opens up, it doesn’t mean carriers would naturally recruit from that pool, Heller said.  recruit from that pool. \

“There are a lot of different things that go into that equation, insurance for one, that certainly play a major role in whether carriers will recruit from that demographic,” he said. “And just because we get the new demographic doesn’t mean they are going to like trucking.”

The American Trucking Association also supports the pilot program.

“ATA supports FMCSA’s efforts to expand on its current work examining younger commercial drivers,” said ATA President and CEO Chris Spear. “Right now, 18-, 19-, and 20-year-old drivers are driving trucks in the United States.  What these pilot programs will do is set out a path for these drivers to fully participate in our industry by allowing them to drive interstate.

“Allowing younger drivers, who are already moving goods intrastate, to drive interstate is a common sense step that has support not just from the trucking industry, but from a broad coalition,” Spear said. “Between FMCSA’s opposed pilot project and the bipartisan support for the Drive SAFE Act in Congress, we hope we will soon create a path for more young people to fully participate in our industry.”

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association in opposition to the second pilot program.

“Rather than developing ways to allow more teenagers behind the wheel of commercial trucks, the federal government should be taking steps to reverse the incessantly high driver turnover rate, which remains above 90 percent among large truckload carriers,” said Todd Spencer, president of OOIDA. “Efforts should focus on improving the industry instead of trying to hire more cheap labor.”

Spencer said OOIDA contends that younger drivers – especially teenagers – generally lack the maturity and experience to operate a CMV at the safest levels. Research has consistently shown that CMV drivers under 21 are more likely to be involved in crashes.

“Launching this pilot program would go against FMCSA’s goal of improving highway safety,” Spencer said. “The agency should not be used as a tool for large motor carriers to expand their driver pool instead of fixing the problems that have led to their extremely high turnover rates. “If highway safety is the priority, the age should go up, not down. Instead of efforts to entice the least experienced, the focus should be hiring and retaining the most experienced drivers, not expanding the funnel of driver churn.”

 

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My gosh it’s COLD out…this semi is frozen!

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Just kidding!

Check out this cool ice sculpture of a semi truck.  Pretty Awesome!

Courtesy: Michel Ouellet

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This 10-year old shifts better than many adults!

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Watch this 10-year old boy lay the hammer down on this 1977 Western Star.

Go get ’em son!

Courtesy: Brad’s Classic Trucks And Trains

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The Trucker News Channel – Trucker busted for rock and roll

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In this episode we cover…

– Trucker busted for rolling recording studio

– State wants to tick slow drivers in the fast lane

– Carrier takes unique approach to driver retention

– Love’s spreads the love

 

David Compton:
Hi, I’m David Compton. Jessica Rose is out on assignment. A trucker gets busted for rocking while he’s rolling and then we’ll take a look at a carrier who’s taking a unique approach to driver retention. And we also have some viral video of a driver showing some extreme patriotism.

Craig Maltman:
Hi, I’m Craig Maltman. Love’s Travel Stops continues to spread the love with three new locations. And South Carolina wants to ticket slow pokes who hang out in the fast lane. And in my deck report I’m going to take a look at a charging partnership in California for Volvo electric trucks. All this plus our Catskill rig of the week on this edition of the Trucker News Channel.

David Compton:
This segment’s brought to you by truckjobseekers.com. Looking for that perfect truck driving job? Go to truckjobseekers.com.
In Washington, recently a trucker brought a whole new meaning to the term rock and roll. It appears the driver was recording his rock music as he was rolling down the highway. Let me explain. Washington State trooper by the name of Trombley recently stopped a semi truck for going 17 miles an hour over the limit. That was only the beginning of it. While the driver, whose identity was not revealed, was arrested for suspicion of DUI and drugs, that’s not the crazy part. The driver admitted that he produces any records music while driving down the highway and he had a mini studio set up in his rig, complete with a computer monitor and keyboard near the truck’s dashboard. The driver even admitted he had a dropdown mike from the ceiling of the cab. You just can’t make this stuff up.

Craig Maltman:
Love’s Travel Stops and Country Stores is now serving customers in Greenville, Virginia, Watonga, Oklahoma, Flowers, Mississippi, thanks to three Travel Stops that have now opened. The Greenville store, located on Lee Jackson Highway, adds 45 jobs and 85 truck parking spaces to Augusta County. Watonga store, located off Highway 3, adds 40 jobs and 50 truck parking spaces to Blaine County. The Flowers store, located off Interstate 20, adds 72 jobs and 94 truck parking spaces to Warren County. All three locations are open 24/7 and offer many amenities such as Arby’s, McDonald’s, and Chester’s Chicken. In honor of the grand opening, Love’s will host a ribbon cutting ceremony at each location and also donate $2,000 to River Heads High School in Greenville, $2,000 to Building a Better You in Watonga and $2,000 to Bovina Elementary School in Flowers, Mississippi.

David Compton:
Driver retention is an important subject for carriers these days and that leaves some carriers thinking out of the box, literally. In this case, it’s a box of groceries. Let me explain. I had a chance to speak with Mike Holland, president of Great Plains Transport, which is a company that’s taking a unique approach in addressing two problems drivers have, consistent pay and dealing with a lifestyle away from home. Great Plains offers their drivers a salary based pay structure of $65,000 per year, paid out weekly. That means that drivers don’t have to worry about how they’ll pay the bills if they have a slow week. Great Plains Transport also rewards their drivers with mileage based bonuses of up to a $1,000 a month. But that’s not all. They also provide groceries to keep the rig’s fridge full. Drivers get to order what they want online and have their groceries delivered to them. The end result, a healthier lifestyle, non-dependent on often unhealthy truck stop fare. Here’s the way Holland describes their program.

Mike Holland:
The salary will just take care of a lot of the issues that we deal with out there from inconsistent paychecks. A paycheck can be consistent for an over the road truck driver because he gets held up at a dock. Not totally out of his control. Maybe the dock worker was driving in and he blew two tires on the interstate. Well he’s not there to drive the forklift, to unload the unit so that this driver can get onto his next job or so he can get home. It has this domino effect, if you will, where now he doesn’t get home, he doesn’t get that load off. He misses his reload the next morning that puts him back home. As the puzzle were perfectly put together. Well, trucking isn’t perfect.

Craig Maltman:
Some of the most powerful lawmakers in South Carolina are backing a proposal to allow officers to pull over people who drive too slowly in the left lane of major roads. Many lawmakers find their way to Columbia on interstates that only have two lanes in each direction and supporters of the bill said something needs to be done to encourage anyone not passing another vehicle to get out of that left lane. Pretty much every southeastern state, except North Carolina and South Carolina have these types of laws already. The bills in the House and the Senate, they differ in the details. The House version would have a fine of $200 and add two points to an offender’s driver’s license. The Senate version would only have a fine of $100. Many in the state hope the bill will, pardon the pun, pass.

David Compton:
This week’s Cat Scale rig of the week goes to Andrew Shanks of Deshler, Ohio. Andrew was a diesel mechanic before he became a driver and that’s paid off in this rebuilding of a 1987 International 9670. He’s now owner operator at A Shanks Enterprises where he mostly pulls a dry van. When he’s not out going to truck shows, Andrew likes to hunt and go to races along with spending time with his wife and two daughters and he’s also got another child on the way. Thanks Andrew, you got a great looking rig there. And if you have a rig you’d like to show off here on the Cat Scale rig of the week, send us a video to rigoftheweek@thetrucker.com.

David Compton:
There’s no denying that our country is polarized right now when it comes to politics. However, we can all stand up and cheer when respect is given to our flag. A ring doorbell video recently captured a FedEx driver taking time out of his day to show some respect when the wind had knocked down a flagpole in someone’s front yard. Take a look.

Craig Maltman:
Greenlots, a member of the Shell Group and a leader in electric vehicle charging has announced the installation of charging infrastructure for a fleet of electrified commercial trucks as part of its ongoing partnership with Volvo Trucks. The heavy duty fleet charging stations are the first of four installations by Greenlots at warehouses across Southern California. Greenlots installed two fully operational 50 kilowatt DC fast chargers at the Fontana site and its plans to install an additional 150 kilowatt DC fast charger in the next month. All of the charging equipment for the project is connected to Greenlots’ Sky EV charging network software, which enables seamless management of Volvo’s fleet and charging stations while balancing grid demand.

David Compton:
If you’re watching us on YouTube, make sure to go to that little red subscribe button below. You can also go to thetrucker.com and read the latest breaking news stories. Well that’s it for this edition. Jessica should be back next week, so on behalf of myself, Craig Maltman, and everybody else here at The Trucker News Channel, thanks for watching.

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