Lawmakers reintroduce bills aimed at lowering age for truckers

May 2019

Mark Schremmer

|

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is urging lawmakers to vote against measures that would allow 18-year-olds to drive in interstate commerce, saying such legislation would create safety concerns for the new drivers and the traveling public.

The DRIVE-Safe Act was reintroduced in the House and Senate on Feb. 26. Supported by the American Trucking Associations, the bill would allow 18- to 20-year-old truckers to cross state lines.

OOIDA responded by sending a letter to lawmakers on Feb. 27.

“Younger drivers – especially teenagers – generally lack the maturity and experience to operate a commercial motor vehicle at the safest levels,” OOIDA wrote in a letter signed by President and CEO Todd Spencer. “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.”

The bills are receiving support on both sides of the aisle and is said to be a solution for the “driver shortage.” OOIDA has maintained its stance that there is no driver shortage and that the issue is one of driver turnover.

“For decades, our country’s largest motor carriers and the trade associations in Washington, D.C., that represent them have touted the myth of a driver shortage as a means to promote policies designed to maintain the cheapest labor supply possible,” Spencer wrote.

“Experience tells us many of those entities pushing for a change in the current minimum-age requirement would simply use it to take advantage of a new pool of drivers – teenagers, who would be subjected to poor working conditions, predatory lease-to-own schemes, and woefully inadequate compensation.”

Most states allow 18- to 20-year-old drivers to operate a commercial motor vehicle intrastate. Federal regulations prohibit truck drivers under the age of 21 to drive interstate.

The bill, S569, was introduced by Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind. The House version, HR1374, was introduced by Rep. Trey Hollingsworth, R-Ind.

Under the measure, under-21 drivers would be required to complete at least 400 hours of on-duty time and 240 hours of driving time with an experienced driver with them. Young drivers also would be required to drive with a speed-limiter capped at 65 mph. LL

Mark Schremmer

Mark Schremmer, senior editor, joined Land Line in 2015. An award-winning journalist and former assistant news editor at The Topeka Capital-Journal, he brings fresh ideas, solid reporting skills, and more than two decades of journalism experience to our staff.