FMCSA proposes pilot program for under-21 commercial drivers

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is proposing and seeking public comments on a new pilot program to allow drivers ages 18-20 to operate commercial motor vehicles in interstate commerce.

The program is one way the agency is trying to address a shortage of commercial drivers. 

“This action will allow the agency to carefully examine the safety, feasibility, and possible economic benefits of allowing 18- to 20-year-old drivers to operate in interstate commerce. Safety is always FMCSA’s top priority, so we encourage drivers, motor carriers, and interested citizens to review this proposed new pilot program and share their thoughts and opinions,” said FMCSA Deputy Administrator Wiley Deck.

FMCSA’s Federal Register notice requests comments on the new pilot program that would allow younger drivers to operate in interstate commerce. The agency proposes a pilot program to allow drivers to participate if they fall within one of two categories:

  • The first is 18- to 20-year-old commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders who operate CMVs in interstate commerce while taking part in a 120-hour probationary period and a subsequent 280-hour probationary period under an apprenticeship program established by an employer.
  • The second category is for 19- and 20-year-old commercial drivers who have operated CMVs in intrastate commerce for a minimum of one year and 25,000 miles. The study group drivers would not be allowed to operate special configuration vehicles or vehicles hauling passengers or hazardous materials.

Currently, 49 states and the District of Columbia already allow 18- to 20-year-old CDL holders to operate CMVs in intrastate commerce — meaning under-21 drivers may currently drive within state borders, such as from Houston to El Paso, Texas, or from Miami to Tallahassee, Florida. 

In July 2018, FMCSA announced the details of a Military Commercial Driver Pilot Program, which allows certain 18- to 20-year-olds with military training to operate CMVs in interstate commerce. 

Read Federal Register Notice and learn more about the proposed pilot program at

Related: FMCSA Acting Director stepping down after less than a year

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