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High school asks FMCSA to allow 17 year olds to obtain commercial learner’s permits

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is considering an exemption request from a high school in Washington state that would lower the age requirement for obtaining a commercial learner’s permit (CLP).

In a notice to be published in the Federal Register on May 17, the FMCSA announced it will consider a rule exemption request from Connell High School (CHS) located in Connell, Washington.

While current federal requirements set the age requirement for obtaining a CLP at 18 years, CHS is asking for FMCSA approval for students enrolled in the Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) Program to obtain a CLP at the age of 17 and receive 180 hours of classroom, field, and drive time instruction before obtaining a CDL at the age of 18.

Connell High School

The students in the school district are 70% minority and 70% economically disadvantaged. School officials say that the school district serves a rural community “with a decreasing workforce but with an increasing agriculture and transportation demand.”

CHS says that the CLP age exemption would allow students to obtain a CDL and enter the workforce right away after graduation, giving them access to stable, well-paying jobs. This, in turn, would also have a positive impact on the community and “alleviate the current commercial driver shortage,” the school says.

CHS points to the state of Maine, which has a similar program for under 18 year old commercial driving students.

The school also points out that lowering the required age for a CLP would allow them to provide a full school year’s worth of classroom, field, and driving instruction before the students apply to obtain a CDL at age 18.

The FMCSA will accept public comment on the exemption request for 30 days following publication in the Federal Register.

You can click here to learn more or submit your comment starting May 17.

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