BISMARCK – The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has announced it is accepting applications from motor carriers for the Safe Driver Apprenticeship Pilot program. Under the program, certain 18-, 19-, and 20-year-old drivers may operate commercial vehicles in interstate commerce. Previously, drivers under 21 years of age could not cross state lines while operating commercial vehicles. The program was signed into law Nov. 15 as part of the infrastructure bill.
“The pilot program will help with the truck driver shortage and ease supply chain disruptions,” Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring said. “It will also create a viable career option for new high school graduates.”
The program is scheduled to last three years with no more than 3,000 apprentices participating at any one time. The apprentices must complete at least 400 hours of probationary time with an experienced driver in the passenger seat. Apprentices may only drive a commercial motor vehicle with an active braking collision mitigation system, a forward-facing camera, cannot transport hazardous materials, and must stay under 65 miles per hour, among other safeguards.
According to the American Trucking Associations, the country is currently short 80,000 drivers.