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January/February 2020

MAP-21 and The FAST Act


On July 6, 2012, an omnibus transportation bill called the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act was signed into law. MAP–21, as it is known, contained many programs intended to improve highway safety—especially to reduce accidents caused by or involving large trucks, buses, and other commercial vehicles on the nation’s highways. Nearly buried among the provisions of the Act was funding for commercial motor vehicle (CMV) driver education, with constituencies that included motor vehicle associations, private carriers, driver organizations, state licensing agencies, labor unions, and insurance companies.

Much of MAP–21 was later folded into the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act of 2015, which funded the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) for five years. Among the provisions of the FAST Act were rules specifically governing military veterans, particularly in helping them become CMV operators. One rule, for example, allows active-duty personnel to apply and be tested for CMV learner’s permits and licenses in the states where they are stationed, and to apply for a skills test waiver if they received comparable training while in the service.

Available in every state, this waiver program is available to drivers with two years’ experience operating heavy military vehicles. Relevant occupational classifications include the Navy equipment operator (EO), Air Force pavement and construction equipment operator (3E2), Marine motor vehicle operator (3531), and Army motor transport operator (88M). Most states restrict drivers under the age of 21 from operating commercial vehicles across state lines. But under a pilot program, FMCSA has removed these restrictions for qualified military drivers under that age.

The FAST Act also established a grant program to support veterans and active-duty personnel, including reservists and National Guard troops, as well as their spouses, in receiving training to transition into CMV operator jobs. Under the terms of the FAST Act, veterans are allowed to obtain the medical certifications required by state licensing agencies from a VA physician.

The FAST Act, which is authorized through 2020, contains $10 million for on-the-job training programs and the same amount for disadvantaged businesses, which are defined by statute as minority- or women-owned. For more information on resources available to service members and veterans, see https://www.fmcsa. dot.gov/registration/commercial-drivers- license/military-job-assistance-resources-and-programs


© Travis King





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