Record-Keeping Burden Could Stymie Trucker Apprenticeship Program

NACS asks FMSCA to remove unnecessary barriers that may hurt participation in the pilot.

January 14, 2022

Truck Driver

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Last week, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) announced a pilot apprenticeship program allows younger truckers to drive across state lines while supervised by an experienced driver. NACS, along with multiple other industry stakeholders, sent a letter to FMSCA expressing concerns about requirements of the program that create unnecessary administrative burdens and may inhibit participation in the program.

The letter asks FMCSA to remove the requirement for employers to join the U.S. Department of Labor’s registered program and reduce the amount of monthly data employers must provide to FMCSA.

“Importantly, without these changes, there is a very real possibility that overall subscription to the program may be delayed or reduced due to the costs and burdens associated,” the stakeholders write in the letter.

Many employers may not want to create a registered apprenticeship program, and may feel that it is unnecessary to the program and will likely reduce participation, the NACS letter states.

“FMCSA does not explain how the two programs are appropriately linked in the emergency information collection request (ICR), and we expect additional notice and comment may be necessary to implement this requirement (thereby likely further delaying implementation of the program),” states the letter.

“Moreover, the burdens associated with creating and operating a registered apprenticeship program are not insubstantial and should be appropriately reflected in the burden estimate for this ICR. Since it is exercising discretion in making this a requirement, FMCSA should drop the requirement and provide the option to become a registered apprenticeship.”

The stakeholders believe that the requirement for additional data to be submitted monthly to FMCSA should be limited to include only those elements that are essential in evaluating the safety impact of commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers under the age of 21 operating in interstate commerce.

“The requested data elements should be narrow, focused and clear so that participating employers are not burdened by the requested information,” stated the letter.

The letter outlines five data points FMCSA should collect: crash data, inspection data, citation data, safety event data and exposure data.

The apprenticeship program is allowed under the recently passed infrastructure law, which included a Trucking Action Plan. The plan aims to improve trucker retention and recruit more truck drivers and in return, help the national supply chain for the long-term.

Prior to the release of the Trucking Action Plan, more than 80 bipartisan House members sent a letter to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg urging the U.S. DOT to allow truck drivers younger than age 21 to cross state lines with their cargo. Although most states allow 18 year-olds to obtain a commercial driver’s license, truck drivers must be at least 21 years old to drive large trucks in interstate commerce.

NACS supports the DRIVE Safe Act, which would allow for drivers between the ages of 18 and 21 with a commercial driver’s license to operate in interstate commerce and drive across state lines. During Senate consideration of the bipartisan infrastructure bill, NACS signed a joint industry letter asking the Senate to include language to address this issue.

In addition, NACS continues to work with a broad coalition working on supply chain issues, especially regarding truck driver shortages. These key stakeholders, including NACS, sent a joint industry letter in October to the White House outlining the need for action in key areas of the supply chain challenge, including movement on allowing 18-21-year-old truck drivers to cross state lines.

NACS Magazine shared how carriers are casting a wider net for applicants to fill truck driving jobs in “Women on the Road” in the October 2021 issue.