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September 08, 2020

Transportation Department Proposes Pilot Program Modeled After Senator King’s DRIVE-Safe Act

Federal government sees economic benefit of opening up commercial fleet to younger drivers

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) applauded the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) proposal modeled after the DRIVE-Safe Act, bipartisan legislation originally cosponsored by Senator King to bolster America’s trucking workforce. FMCSA recently posted a notice in the Federal Register requesting public comment on the proposed pilot program, which would allow 18- to 20-year-old commercial driver’s license holders to operate commercial motor vehicles in interstate commerce while taking part in an apprenticeship program.

“During this pandemic, our supply chain has been vital in delivering the goods or materials Americans need to weather this storm and stay safe,” said Senator King. “Our increased need has highlighted our ongoing national driver shortage – and driven home the urgency to modernize our workforce. The DRIVE-Safe Act is a commonsense solution to a bureaucratic challenge, helping young drivers get a jumpstart on their career. The DOT’s proposed pilot program will help young people develop the skills they need to make safe decisions on the road while gaining the experience they need to establish long and successful careers.”

“The proposed pilot program will be an important step to address the serious workforce shortage being felt in the trucking industry right now,” said Brian Parke, President and CEO of the Maine Motor Transport Association. “Allowing 18- to 20-year-olds to gain valuable experience while following the strict safety and oversight requirements of the apprenticeship program will help boost this nation’s supply chain today and into the future.”

Similar to the proposed pilot program, Senator King’s Developing Responsible Individuals for a Vibrant Economy (DRIVE-Safe) Act would establish an apprenticeship program that would allow for the legal operation of commercial motor vehicles in interstate commerce by commercial driver’s license holders under the age of 21. The apprenticeship training program would help ensure these drivers are trained beyond current standards while instituting rigorous safety standards and performance benchmarks. Though 49 states allow individuals to obtain a commercial driver’s license at the age 18, federal law currently prohibits those operators from moving goods across state lines until they are 21. This program would help address the nationwide driver shortage in the trucking and logistics industry and enhance safety training and job opportunities for young truckers.

Senator King introduced the DRIVE-Safe Act in February 2019 along with Senators Todd Young (R-Ind.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.). Since the bill’s introduction, nearly 30 additional Senators have joined as cosponsors. 

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