As part of a requirement under the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), in 2022, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) established the Safe Driver Apprenticeship Pilot Program (SDAP). The goal of the three-year program is to help individuals ages 18, 19, and 20 explore interstate trucking careers and help trucking companies hire and train new drivers.
The program was started to help address the truck driver shortage in our country. The trucking industry is currently facing a shortage of more than 78,000 truck drivers coupled with a need to hire 1.2 million new drivers over the next decade to meet increasing freight demands, according to the American Trucking Associations (ATA).
Under the SDAP, a maximum of 3,000 drivers can participate in the program at any one time; however, there have been fewer than a dozen enrollees. The program’s failure is because of extra requirements by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) that were not included in the original law.
Bill Introduced to Get Safe Driver Apprenticeship Pilot Program on Track
To help get SDAP back on track, Congressmen Rick Crawford (R-Arkansas) and Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) urged the DOT to take corrective actions that would improve participation in the SDAP and required DOT to provide Congress detailed reports on SDAP’s status and corrective actions taken to improve participation.
These changes directs the Secretary of Transportation to move forward with regulations to allow 18- to 20-year-old commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers to operate across state lines if the data does not demonstrate that those in the IIJA pilot program drive less safely than other CMV drivers.
“Building a 21st century supply chain requires a strong, vibrant, and growing trucking workforce,” said ATA President and CEO Chris Spear. This update will bolster new career pathways into interstate trucking while promoting safety and training standards that far exceed the bar set by states today. Congressmen Crawford and Cuellar’s efforts offer a timely and essential trucking workforce and supply chain solution, built off years of broad bipartisan Congressional support. By directing DOT to steer the Program back to the course Congress originally intended, and providing a path forward to a new trucking workforce to safely enter the industry, this bill will ensure that trucking has the talent it needs to meet the economy’s growing freight demands in the years to come.
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