U.S. gives green light to teen big rig drivers in test apprenticeship program

  

Category:  News & Politics

Via:  perrie-halpern  •  4 months ago  •  53 comments

By:   Associated Press

U.S. gives green light to teen big rig drivers in test apprenticeship program
The federal government is moving forward with a plan to let teenagers drive big rigs from state to state in a test program.

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T



DETROIT — The federal government is moving forward with a plan to let teenagers drive big rigs from state to state in a test program.

Currently, truckers who cross state lines must be at least 21 years old, but an apprenticeship program required by Congress to help ease supply chain backlogs would let 18-to-20-year-old truckers drive outside their home states.

The pilot program, detailed Thursday in a proposed regulation from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, would screen the teens, barring any with driving-while-impaired violations or traffic tickets for causing a crash.

But safety advocates say the program runs counter to data showing that younger drivers get in more crashes than older ones. They say it's unwise to let teenage drivers be responsible for rigs that can weigh 80,000 pounds and cause catastrophic damage when they hit lighter vehicles.

The apprenticeship pilot program was required by Congress as part of the infrastructure bill signed into law Nov. 15. It requires the FMCSA, which is part of the Transportation Department, to start the program within 60 days.

The American Trucking Associations, a large industry trade group, supports the measure as a way to help with a shortage of drivers. The group estimates that the nation is running over 80,000 drivers short of the number it needs, as demand to move freight reaches historic highs.

Under the apprenticeship, younger drivers can cross state lines during 120-hour and 280-hour probationary periods, as long as an experienced driver is in the passenger seat. Trucks used in the program have to have an electronic braking crash mitigation system, a forward facing video camera, and their speeds must be limited to 65 mph.

After probation, they can drive on their own, but companies have to monitor their performance until they are 21. No more than 3,000 apprentices can take part in the training at any given time.

The FMCSA must reach out to carriers with excellent safety records to take part in the program, according to the Transportation Department.

The program will run for up to three years, and the motor carrier agency has to turn in a report to Congress analyzing the safety record of the teen drivers and making a recommendation on whether the younger drivers are as safe as those 21 or older. Congress could expand the program with new laws.

The test is part of a broader set of measures from the Biden administration to deal with the trucker shortage and improve working conditions for truck drivers.

In a statement, Nick Geale, vice president of workforce safety for the trucking associations, noted 49 states and Washington, D.C., already allow drivers under 21 to drive semis, but they can't pick up a load just across a state line.

"This program creates a rigorous safety training program, requiring an additional 400 hours of advanced safety training, in which participants are evaluated against specific performance benchmarks," Geale said. The program will ensure that the industry has enough drivers to meet growing freight demands, he said.

But Peter Kurdock, general counsel for Advocates for Highway & Auto Safety, said federal data shows that younger drivers have far higher crash rates than older ones. "This is no surprise to any American who drives a vehicle," he said.

Putting them behind the wheel of trucks that can weigh up to 40 tons when loaded increases the possibility of mass casualty crashes, he said.

Kurdock said the trucking industry has wanted younger drivers for years and used supply chain issues to get it into the infrastructure bill. He fears the industry will use skewed data from the program to push for teenage truckers nationwide.


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evilgenius
PhD Guide
1  evilgenius    4 months ago

This won't end will for someone...

 
 
 
Split Personality
Professor Principal
1.1  Split Personality  replied to  evilgenius @1    4 months ago
 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
1.1.1  devangelical  replied to  Split Personality @1.1    4 months ago

there's no age limits on human negligence and ignorance. easy to find examples, especially here...

my main concern would be legislation allowing private business an opportunity to take advantage of younger drivers.

 
 
 
Ender
Professor Principal
2  Ender    4 months ago

Ya know, every time I get on our interstate there is a ton of trucks everywhere. Even filling up rest stops.

For a so called shortage, there is sure a hell of a lot of them on the road.

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
2.1  Trout Giggles  replied to  Ender @2    4 months ago

Yeah there is. I have to fight with them twice a day. And god forbid we want to take I-40 going anywhere

 
 
 
Ender
Professor Principal
3  Ender    4 months ago
After probation, they can drive on their own, but companies have to monitor their performance until they are 21.

I thought most companies monitored their trucks anyway.

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
3.1  devangelical  replied to  Ender @3    4 months ago

they've had the ability with GPS devices that can monitor both the truck and it's driver

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
3.1.1  Trout Giggles  replied to  devangelical @3.1    4 months ago

I can see the truck but how do they monitor the driver?

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
3.1.2  devangelical  replied to  Trout Giggles @3.1.1    4 months ago

they have the tech to know if they brake hard or miss a shift. some have in cab cameras.

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
3.1.3  Trout Giggles  replied to  devangelical @3.1.2    4 months ago

Ah...I see. I thought maybe they injected a tracker in them (I'm kidding...but just a little)

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
3.1.4  devangelical  replied to  Trout Giggles @3.1.3    4 months ago

they do have trackers in them. it's the same device that their companies use to communicate with the drivers and make sure that they are compliant with their hours of service driving.

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
4  Trout Giggles    4 months ago

Does anyone besides me think this a bad idea? Teenagers can't drive an automatic how are they going to manage all those gears...and keep their eyes on the road instead of their phones

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
4.1  devangelical  replied to  Trout Giggles @4    4 months ago

they've made tractors with automatic transmissions for years. it wouldn't surprise me if the auto/manual ratio is pretty close on company owned vehicles on the road today now.

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
4.1.1  Trout Giggles  replied to  devangelical @4.1    4 months ago

Really? Can you really drive a large vehicle like with an automatic gear shift?

I don't know nuttin' about vehicles so please excuse my stupid questions

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
4.1.2  devangelical  replied to  Trout Giggles @4.1.1    4 months ago

no problem TG. I got my commercial driver's license more than a decade ago, when the last GOPer POTUS and his pals looted the economy and wrecked my remodeling business. it was a shit job that didn't pay enough for living like an animal and being among the knuckle draggers in truck stops.

 
 
 
Nowhere Man
Junior Expert
4.1.3  Nowhere Man  replied to  Trout Giggles @4.1.1    4 months ago
Really? Can you really drive a large vehicle like with an automatic gear shift?

Most trucks manufactured are automatics, in fact for most of the manufacturers, manuals are special order...

 
 
 
Mark in Wyoming
Professor Silent
4.1.4  Mark in Wyoming   replied to  Nowhere Man @4.1.3    4 months ago

just read not long ago , that all the new 22 year trucks to be made , are already sold out . 

 automatic IS taking over ,most of what are considered the "training type companies , those companies that take in people that have never drove before , just got out of school and the like , , like swift , Shneider , CRST  jb hunt and werner , they have massive fleets and order not  one truck , but hundreds at a time as those fleets get replaced those automatics will get resold and get into other parts of the trucking industry .  and automatics are easier to drive you can find more people that can drive them than a manual , but they lose when it comes to repair and maint costs 

 trend i have seen with those that buy old fleet trucks ? swap out the auto for a manual.

another thing to think about with 18 YO drivers that makes me not worry so much , how many you think you will be able to pry away from their x boxes and play stations long enough to drive farther than the nearest mickey D's ? hehehehehe.

 
 
 
Split Personality
Professor Principal
4.1.5  Split Personality  replied to  Nowhere Man @4.1.3    4 months ago

Only 2% of cars are manual any more.  

Medium and HD trucks are almost exclusively manual transmissions

Semis, cab overs and sleepers Are usually in stock with a variety of manual transmissions.

Automatics are special orders for most manufactures except Freightliner which manufactures 85% of it trucks with

automatics currently.

There are many fleets turning to Automated Transmissions

There are many fleets that are faithful to manual transmissions.

Manual transmissions are still dominant in the industry.

Butt as they say, 

the times, they are a changing.....slowly

 
 
 
Mark in Wyoming
Professor Silent
4.2  Mark in Wyoming   replied to  Trout Giggles @4    4 months ago

reminds me of a trucker  youtube i recently saw . younger guy , jumps up in the cab of a semi, looks around at the inside of the cab , looks right at the camera and asks ," wheres the prndl?( said prindle), looks at the gear shift and says this thing has numbers , counts off to 10 ,  then asks again wheres the prindle ?

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
4.2.1  Trout Giggles  replied to  Mark in Wyoming @4.2    4 months ago

See? LOL!

 
 
 
Mark in Wyoming
Professor Silent
4.2.2  Mark in Wyoming   replied to  Trout Giggles @4.2.1    4 months ago

well back in the stone age when i got my CDL , most of the construction companies had older equipment , usually with 2 stick transmissions , cut my hauling teeth on an old mack B-60 with a 4 and a 5 , her nick name was galloping gerty , running through the gears she had a tendency to kinda lope and sway , no air bag suspension of any kind  , on that old girl , but she was solid .

 
 
 
charger 383
Professor Quiet
5  charger 383    4 months ago

this is another thing causing problems: "and their speeds must be limited to 65 mph."  70 speed limit and truck with 65 mph governor tries to pass 63 mph truck and slows things for 2 miles

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
5.1  Trout Giggles  replied to  charger 383 @5    4 months ago

We see that when we travel I-40. It's a major commerce route and I hate taking that road

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
5.1.1  devangelical  replied to  Trout Giggles @5.1    4 months ago

most company owned trucks are governed at 65mph for fuel economy and safety. a 40 ton brick flying down the road at 75mph isn't going to stop fast, or in a straight line. I stopped driving 18 wheelers because there's too many people on the road that seemed to have a death wish around semi trucks.

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
5.1.2  Trout Giggles  replied to  devangelical @5.1.1    4 months ago

Yes, I have witnessed that insanity. I've seen people tailgate trucks, whip right in front of them, and all kinds of stupid things. I try to get around a truck as fast as I can and then give plenty of room before I get back in the right hand lane.

 
 
 
Ender
Professor Principal
5.1.3  Ender  replied to  Trout Giggles @5.1.2    4 months ago

I know trucks are better now but one thing I noticed, some truckers like momentum. In some hilly areas I have seen them gain speed going downhill and use that to get up the next.

One time I was at the bottom of a high rise and a truck came barreling on me. I realized he had his momentum going to keep speed going up the high rise. I think I pissed him off when he had to slow down behind me.

I should have gotten out of his way.

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
5.1.4  Trout Giggles  replied to  Ender @5.1.3    4 months ago

I can see them doing that. And if I see a big ass truck barreling down on me....I actually start praying

 
 
 
Split Personality
Professor Principal
5.1.5  Split Personality  replied to  Trout Giggles @5.1    4 months ago

It's like russian roulette every time we cross that bridge lol

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
5.1.6  Trout Giggles  replied to  Split Personality @5.1.5    4 months ago

LOL!

 
 
 
Mark in Wyoming
Professor Silent
5.1.7  Mark in Wyoming   replied to  Trout Giggles @5.1    4 months ago

thats pretty common with the aught numbered routes  or even numbered , the aughts ( ones that end with a zero ) are usually east/west and designated as truck routes . Funny thing , if i get on 20 out here at my place and stay on it headed east , i will end up at my mothers in boston area .

As for north south , its usually the odd numbers that go north /south , and any of the ones ending in a 5 or a 9 are the trucking routes .

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
5.1.8  Trout Giggles  replied to  Mark in Wyoming @5.1.7    4 months ago

Good information! I've done a lot of traveling so I know that odd number routes run N-S and even numbers run W-E. I also learned a few things about highway sounds that tell you where your next exit is. If the rectangle is on the upper left corner, that means your exit is on the left and vice versa.

I knew I-40 was a major trucking route but I didn't realize that I-80, I-20, etc are, also

 
 
 
Mark in Wyoming
Professor Silent
5.1.9  Mark in Wyoming   replied to  Trout Giggles @5.1.8    4 months ago

90.80, 70 40 and 10 are all designated truck routes 30 is the old Lincoln highway that goes from the pacific northwest to somewhere on the east coast , 20 runs from the north east to the west coast . 20 and 30 predate the modern intrestate system like old route 66.

another factoid is those first 5 being part of the interstate system are also designed to be used as aircraft landing zones in times of emergency .

 
 
 
Nowhere Man
Junior Expert
5.1.10  Nowhere Man  replied to  Mark in Wyoming @5.1.9    4 months ago

US Highways... US 20, the one I'm familiar with runs from Newport Oregon to Boston 3,365 mi (currently it is the longest road in the United States)

US 30 runs from Astoria Ore to Atlantic City NJ 3,073 mi... 

The longest used to be US 6 which originally ran from Provincetown Ma to Long Beach CA, 3,652 mi, (until 1964) but now ends at Bishop CA 3,199 mi

 
 
 
Kathleen
Professor Principal
6  Kathleen    4 months ago

They are desperate for drivers. This is not a good idea, they need people with experience that have been on the road a lot longer. They become more distracted with more things at that age. I think it is a bad idea.

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
6.1  devangelical  replied to  Kathleen @6    4 months ago

trucking companies have always been desperate for drivers, even during the bush depression. why do you think that is? younger people have better reaction times, more stamina, and are usually more healthy than some extra large sleep deprived slob that can't do anything else for a living.

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
6.1.1  Trout Giggles  replied to  devangelical @6.1    4 months ago

I live in a big trucking state. I constantly see ads for truck drivers

 
 
 
Kathleen
Professor Principal
6.1.2  Kathleen  replied to  devangelical @6.1    4 months ago

Agree to Disagree

 
 
 
Mark in Wyoming
Professor Silent
6.2  Mark in Wyoming   replied to  Kathleen @6    4 months ago
they need people with experience

problem is , there is only one way to get the needed experience , and no its not from a school using virtual reality video style teaching methods .

 
 
 
Nowhere Man
Junior Expert
6.2.1  Nowhere Man  replied to  Mark in Wyoming @6.2    4 months ago
there is only one way to get the needed experience

On the road behind the wheel...

 
 
 
Nerm_L
PhD Principal
7  Nerm_L    4 months ago

These people are old enough to join the military.  And the various military branches have demonstrated that people aged 18-20 years can act responsibly with proper training and supervision.  Someone 19 years of age can be responsible for something far more dangerous than a truck.

The concern is that trucking companies won't invest in adequate training and supervision, as does the military.  Trucking companies are motivated by profit which is an incentive to only provide the cheapest training and the least supervision.  How these trucking companies handle an apprenticeship program will determine safety.  There's nothing wrong with allowing people aged 18-20 to drive tractor/trailer trucks but, obviously, the apprenticeship program would require pretty stringent and intrusive regulation by the government.

 
 
 
Kathleen
Professor Principal
7.1  Kathleen  replied to  Nerm_L @7    4 months ago

They are, but there has been some really bad accidents with these big trucks, I don't even like driving around them.  If they don't get enough training, that could be a disaster. A friend of my sister-in-laws drives a truck, the ones that carry the fuel, I think that should be for a more experienced driver.

 
 
 
Nerm_L
PhD Principal
7.1.1  Nerm_L  replied to  Kathleen @7.1    4 months ago
They are, but there has been some really bad accidents with these big trucks, I don't even like driving around them.  If they don't get enough training, that could be a disaster. A friend of my sister-in-laws drives a truck, the ones that carry the fuel, I think that should be for a more experienced driver.

Yes, if truck drivers do not get enough training then that's asking for disaster.  But that's true of drivers at any age.

The apprenticeship program put in place by Congress is, apparently, intended to allow younger drivers to gain experience.  As long as trucking companies manage this as a training apprenticeship rather than as a source of cheap drivers then there should be few problems.  

Another possibility is that Congress put the apprenticeship program in place to boost the Teamsters union, too.  With the current Congress (and President) anything is possible.  I don't have any details other than what was provided in the seed article and it's not interesting enough to search.

 
 
 
Ender
Professor Principal
8  Ender    4 months ago

I noticed people keep talking about adding more drivers yet I haven't heard anything about giving truckers better pay.

 
 
 
Mark in Wyoming
Professor Silent
8.1  Mark in Wyoming   replied to  Ender @8    4 months ago

Its a little more than just the pay ,  to some its the conditions , want to be the one that shows up on time for a pick up or delivery , only to be told your going to be sitting for the next 10 hrs ? all the while your service hrs clock is still ticking down ? or how about being told drivers cant use the bathrooms to take care of nature calls and you are relegated to those porta potties that look like they havent been serviced since the last altamont concert?

 lets not forget lack of adequate places to park that the drivers actually feel safe enough to do their down time . and add in the rules some places have on conditions they must follow when parked . 

 
 
 
Ender
Professor Principal
8.1.1  Ender  replied to  Mark in Wyoming @8.1    4 months ago

We have several truck stops on I-10 that have full service. Places to park, restaurants, showers. One place near Jackson has it's own barbershop.

 
 
 
Mark in Wyoming
Professor Silent
8.1.2  Mark in Wyoming   replied to  Ender @8.1.1    4 months ago

i likely went through there years ago , problem is , what you have there , may or may NOT be the norm in other places . 

Im just glad im on the tail end of wanting to drive anymore , i have the luxury of picking and choosing . and can afford to do so .

 
 
 
Mark in Wyoming
Professor Silent
9  Mark in Wyoming     4 months ago

what many are not aware of , is that most states allow for those under 21 to drive semis , but their lic is conditional , they can not drive across state lines , all this is changing is that one little rule and allowing them to now do so  on the federal level. nothing else has really changd with having to follow hrs of service and everything else .

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
10  Kavika     4 months ago

As Mark mentioned above 18/21 year olds drive big rigs in states now and the only change will be them crossing state lines which makes it interstate traffic vs intrastate traffic.

The one problem that may arise is the if they are O/O using the carriers insurance the insurace company may not accept them because of their age, this has been a problem in the past and I expect that it will be now that they can cross state lines.

 
 
 
Mark in Wyoming
Professor Silent
10.1  Mark in Wyoming   replied to  Kavika @10    4 months ago

outside of ag hauling i have never met any 18 yr olds that were owner operators of their own tractors .... Now in Ag , yeah but those trucks are not worked year round and they are usually part of the family owned farm or ranch .

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
10.1.1  Kavika   replied to  Mark in Wyoming @10.1    4 months ago

We had 20 and 21 and up to 24 yo's that would want to sign on with us to pull containers out of the harbor. They had their own rigs but our insurance would not insure them. Minimum age requirement was 25 years old.

This was local drayage, to the railheads or to warehouses.

 
 
 
Jeremy Retired in NC
PhD Guide
11  Jeremy Retired in NC    4 months ago

Makes no sense that they are doing this when there are more requirements set to go into effect in February:

Beginning February 7, 2022, entry-level drivers will be subject to the requirements in the Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT) regulations. This includes drivers applying to:
  • Obtain a Class A or Class B CDL for the first time;
  • Upgrade an existing Class B CDL to a Class A CDL; or
  • Obtain a school bus (S), passenger (P), or hazardous materials (H) endorsement for the first time.
The ELDT regulations establish a Federal standard for training CDL applicants. Applicants must successfully complete this training before they will be permitted to take the CDL skills test or, in the case of the H endorsement, the knowledge test.

Unless this apprentice program is going to be accepted as part of the upcoming ELDT regulations this could all be pointless.

 
 
 
Paula Bartholomew
Professor Guide
12  Paula Bartholomew    4 months ago

The only teen drivers I would trust with few exceptions are those who grew up on major farms and ranches.  Those kids have grown up operating the machines and vehicles needed, from tractors to combines.  Safety has been drilled into them since childhood.

 
 
 
JBB
Professor Principal
12.1  JBB  replied to  Paula Bartholomew @12    4 months ago

The teens being recruited to be drivers are eighteen or nineteen and they must pass the same extensive training and testing requirements as all drivers. It is the same as any industry recruiting in high schools.

 
 

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