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Teen semi drivers allowed in apprenticeship program

Semi-trucks on a highway

Many parents feel trepidation when their teenager comes of age to start driving. Now fast forward to that teen being 18 years old and wanting to take part in a test apprenticeship program to drive a 40-ton (when fully loaded) semi-truck.

The federal government is moving forward with a plan that required the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to start the program in March to allow 18–20-year-olds to drive big rigs from state to state through a test program.  Currently, the minimum age is 21 years of age, but it is believed that opening the age group to 18 and older, it will help take some pressure off the estimated 80,000 driver shortage and eliminate some of the issues with the movement of freight.

There are some requirements as part of this program, the first one stating that “young drivers can cross state lines during their 120-hour and 280-hour probationary period, as long as an experienced driver is in the passenger seat.” There are also requirements of the truck itself from an electronic braking system to a forward-facing video camera.

As with any new program even if it is a test, it doesn’t come without scrutiny. Advocates for Highway & Auto Safety are concerned with younger drivers in semi-trucks. Federal data shows that younger drivers “have a far higher crash rate than older ones… Putting them behind the wheel of trucks that can weigh up to 40 tons when loaded increases the possibility of mass casualty crashes. The hope is that the additional 400 hours of advanced safety training will ensure that safety isn’t compromised.

Pragmatyxs works with manufacturers on the front end of the supply chain; supporting accurate and streamlined labeling solutions. We also create systems to track and monitor these products once they reach their given destination. New testing programs for the delivery of these products will continue to be of interest and enable us to modify our processes at the beginning of the chain.