Safe Driver Apprentice Program (SDAP) | What You Need to Know
January 24, 2023
Last year, the United States Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) launched the Safe Driver Apprentice Program (SDAP) as part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The program, which was mainly established in response to the ongoing driver shortage, overrides the federal law which bans CDL holders between the ages of 18 and 20 from operating commercial motor vehicles across state lines and in interstate commerce.
The Safe Driver Apprentice Program allows approved fleets meeting certain safety requirements to train drivers 18 to 20 years of age for interstate routes. Approved fleets commit to providing a qualified trainer who will ride in the passenger seat and supervise the apprentice while operating a commercial vehicle. If a motor carrier is chosen to participate, they must agree to a training program that includes two probationary periods.
At any one time, the agency allows 3,000 total apprentices into the program. This is a rolling 3,000, meaning as drivers complete the program or drop out, a new driver will be accepted. The new driver, however, may not be from the same company. Rather, the next driver on the federal waiting list will be chosen.
Administrative and safety hurdles may limit which fleets participate. To learn more about eligibility for motor carriers, apprentices, and driving trainers, fill out the form below and access SMSC’s SDAP guide.