Bill Aiming to Lower the Interstate Driving Age of Truckers to 18 is Back
Washington D.C. – Legislation that would effectively allow 18-year-old’s with a commercial driver’s license (CDL) to operate cross-country has been re-introduced into the U.S. House and Senate.
On Wednesday, a bi-partisan group of U.S. lawmakers have once again introduced the Developing Responsible Individuals for a Vibrant Economy Act (DRIVE Safe Act), which would eliminate the federal age restriction on interstate transportation.
While 49 states currently allow individuals to obtain a CDL and operate large commercial vehicles before they turn 21, federal regulations prohibit those same drivers from crossing state lines until they turn 21.
A powerful coalition of nearly 90 companies and trade associations including the American Trucking Associations (ATA) and the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) have long supported enactment of the DRIVE-Safe Act.
These groups argue that allowing under-21 drivers to operate cross-country would ease the so-called “driver shortage” and give opportunities to younger people the industry loses to other trades before they turn 21.
Specifically, under the legislation, a qualified under-21 driver must complete at least 400 hours of on-duty time and 240 hours of driving time with an experienced driver/trainer in the cab.
Additionally, all trucks used for training in the program must be equipped with NTSB-endorsed safety technology including active braking collision mitigation systems, forward-facing video event capture and a speed governor set at 65 miles per hour.
In response to the bill’s re-introduction, the ATA once again urged its passage.
“This bill has strong, bipartisan backing because it’s both common sense and pro-safety,” said ATA President and CEO Chris Spear. “It will create enormous opportunities for countless Americans seeking a high-paying profession without the debt burden that comes with a four-year degree.”
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Critics such as the Owner Operator Independent Driver’s Association (OOIDA) contend that younger drivers lack the maturity needed to operate a big rig safely on long hauls.
In a letter to lawmakers in 2019 opposing the DRIVE Safe Act, OOIDA wrote, “Research consistently concludes that commercial motor vehicle drivers under the age of 21 are more likely to be involved in crashes. In some states, teenagers entering the apprentice program created by the legislation would have only recently received a full driver’s license to operate an automobile, let alone a commercial motor vehicle.”
Who is sponsoring the DRIVE Safe Act?
The DRIVE-Safe Act was introduced by Senators Todd Young (R-IN), Jon Tester (D-MT), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Angus King (I-ME), Krysten Sinema (D-AZ), Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Jim Inhofe (R-OK) in the Senate, and by Representatives Trey Hollingsworth (R-IN), Jim Cooper (D-TN), Henry Cuellar (D-TX), Elissa Slotkin (D-MI), Jared Golden (D-ME), Troy Balderson (R-OH), Ashley Hinson (R-IA), Bruce Westerman (R-AR) and Darin LaHood (R-IL) in the House.
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