Applications Requested for Safe Driver Apprenticeship Program
The application process remains open for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Safe Driver Apprenticeship Program (SDAP). This is a three-year pilot program to assess whether 18-, 19- and 20-year-old drivers can safely operate commercial motor vehicles in interstate commerce after completing two probationary periods totaling 400 hours.
At the end of the pilot program, FMCSA will assess the safety data accumulated by these 18–20-year-old drivers and compare it to control data generated by older drivers to determine if the agency wants to proceed with a revision to the 21-year-old minimum age requirement for CMV drivers.
The agency seeks up to 1,000 carriers and 3,000 drivers to participate on a voluntary basis in the program. The agency will monitor the safety record of the participating carriers and drivers over the pilot program, which is expected to last three years.
On January 14, 2022, the FMCSA announced in a Federal Register Notice the establishment of the apprenticeship pilot program. To participate in the pilot program, motor carriers must register with the U.S. Department of Labor Registered Apprenticeship Program.
In addition, carriers that would like to participate in the SDAP must complete an application for participation and submit monthly data on an apprentice’s driver activity (e.g., vehicle miles traveled, duty hours, driving hours, off-duty time, or breaks), safety outcomes (e.g., crashes, violations, and safety-critical events), and any additional supporting information (e.g., onboard monitoring systems or investigative reports from previous crashes). Also, carriers will be required to notify FMCSA within 24 hours of: (1) any injury or fatal crash involving an apprentice; (2) an apprentice receiving an alcohol-related citation in any vehicle (e.g., driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated); (3) an apprentice choosing to leave the pilot program; (4) an apprentice leaving the carrier; or (5) an apprentice failing a random or post-crash drug/alcohol test.
Motor carrier applicants must not have a conditional or unsatisfactory safety rating and must meet other safety and regulatory compliance metrics. The SDAP will not authorize apprentice drivers to transport passengers or hazardous materials or operate double- or triple-trailer combinations or cargo tank vehicles.