Safe Driver Apprenticeship Program Update

Aug 30, 2023

Ruan is proud to announce our participation in the FMCSA’s Safe Driver Apprenticeship Program (SDAP), and the recent acceptance of two experienced drivers to serve as trainers. In April 2023, Ruan became the 18th carrier approved to participate in the SDAP program and began to lay the groundwork for our own program. 

What is the SDAP pilot program?

The Safe Driver Apprenticeship Program is a provision from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) that requires the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to establish a three-year apprenticeship pilot program allowing drivers between the ages of 18-20 to operate in interstate commerce. The goal is to provide the tools and experience to help young drivers explore interstate trucking careers right after high school while also helping to alleviate the industry’s driver shortage by allowing trucking companies to hire and train new drivers through an apprenticeship program. The nationwide program is limited to 3,000 apprentice drivers enrolled at any point. Carriers, experienced drivers, and apprentices must all meet a series of requirements and provide monthly reporting on driver activity, safety metrics, hours-of-service compliance, and more. Apprentices must also have an exemplary driving record and meet strict qualifications to be considered.

Equipment used by apprentices must include specific onboard monitoring systems, including:

  • Inward- and outward-facing video technology
  • Automated transmission
  • Active braking CMS
  • Speed governed at 65 mph

Additionally, apprentices must always have a physical copy of their FMCSA interstate commerce authorization letter and cannot transport passengers, hazardous materials, or operate double- or triple-trailer combinations or tankers during the duration of the program, regardless of license endorsements. A carrier-appointed experienced driver must be in the passenger seat for the entire 400-hour probationary period and must immediately report any potentially disqualifying events.

Motor Carriers must meet a lengthy list of qualifications, including having a crash rate, driver out-of service rate, and vehicle out-of-service rate all below the 2021 national average. Additionally, motor carriers must have a registered apprenticeship (RA) program through the Department of Labor.

Ruan joined the ATA Registered Apprenticeship Program in late 2022 and, in June of 2023, announced the approval of two experienced drivers to take part in the SDAP program, Terry Owens and Phil Franksain of Cedar Falls, IA.

“We are excited to get this program rolling and are proud to have identified our first two experienced drivers,” said Ruan Vice President of Safety Blake Grolmus. “Terry and Phil are excellent drivers with many years of experience. Additionally, both men are true leaders with a passion to mentor new drivers and pass on their extensive trucking safety knowledge to the next line of professional drivers.”

This fall, Ruan plans to visit several Iowa school districts, community colleges, and career fairs to showcase the new apprenticeship program and recruit potential apprentices. Initially, the program will be limited in scope with just one to two apprentices, but Ruan hopes to expand to multiple locations in the near future.

If you are interested in learning more about Ruan’s participation in the Safe Driver Apprenticeship Program, contact us today!