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Under 21 Driver Pilot Program

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The Safe Driver Apprenticeship Program (SDAP) launched in 2022 with the expectation that up to 1,000 motor carriers and 3,000 drivers would participate. To date only 29 carriers are registered with 36 drivers enrolled.

American Trucking Associations President and CEO Chris Spear feels that

“The Safe Driver Apprenticeship Pilot Program was intended to bolster new career pathways into interstate trucking while promoting safety and training standards that far exceed the bar set by states today. Unfortunately, burdensome and unnecessary requirements imposed by FMCSA sharply limited enrollment.”

When the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) published the standards for the program they included some items that the original infrastructure law did not require and are considered burdensome:

  • Trucks must be equipped with inward-facing cameras
  • The participating motor carrier must register their apprenticeship program with the U. S. Department of Labor

The 2024 federal transportation funding bill included provisions to remove the inward-facing camera and registration with the U. S. Department of Labor requirements. The International Foodservice Distributors Association has stated that these changes will

“restore the Safe Driver Apprenticeship Pilot program to its original intent and increase opportunities for qualified younger drivers to receive rigorous training and safely enter the foodservice distribution workforce.”

Another consideration that is not receiving a lot of public discussion is how to insure these younger drivers. Insurance underwriters are going to want hard performance data before they make a decision, yet this group of drivers can’t be assessed until they are insured for highway operation. Given this hurdle it seems that this program may remain viable only for carriers large enough to self-insure. Based on that it is not likely the insurance community will have access to the data they need to lower their minimum age requirement.