November 19, 2018
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Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao announced during a press event in Nebraska on July 3 that USDOT will officially launch a long-awaited pilot program to permit 18 to 20 year olds who possess the U.S. military equivalent of a commercial driver’s license or “CDL” to operate large trucks in interstate commerce.

Chao was in Nebraska to receive an update on the Lincoln South Beltway project, which was awarded a $25 million fiscal year 2017 transportation investment generating economic recovery or “TIGER” discretionary grant in May; an funding stream the agency renamed the “BUILD program” on April 27.

As directed by Section 5404 of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation or “FAST” Act of 2015, this truck driver training pilot program will grant a limited number of individuals between the ages of 18 and 20 the opportunity operate large trucks in interstate commerce – provided they possess the military equivalent of a CDL and are sponsored by a participating trucking company, USDOT said.

During the pilot program – originally proposed in August of 2016 and slated to run for three years – the safety records of these drivers will be compared to the records of a control group of drivers. Complete information on the pilot program and the related information collection was published in the Federal Register on July 5.

“This program will allow our veterans and reservists, to translate their extensive training into good-paying jobs operating commercial vehicles safely across the country, while also addressing the nationwide driver shortage,” said Chao in a statement.

She noted in her written remarks that the Lincoln South Beltway project, which served as a backdrop to the truck driver pilot program announcement, is a new four-lane highway designed to allow freight traffic to bypass Lincoln; separating passenger and freight traffic and reducing wear on the existing road.

“The Lincoln South Beltway project will allow freight to move more efficiently and also increase safety and ease congestion for local residents,” Chao added.

Photo: U.S. Army 1st Lt. Cory Johnson, 109th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

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