Stats on younger drivers punch holes in DRIVE-Safe Act

OOIDA Foundation says numbers don’t support legislation putting under-21 drivers behind the wheel in interstate trucking.

June 2019

Mark Schremmer


While some lawmakers are pushing a bill that would allow 18- to 20-year-old drivers to operate a commercial motor vehicle in interstate commerce, the numbers show little support for the idea.

Younger truck drivers are more likely to receive a traffic conviction or violation, the OOIDA Foundation has found.

Using the American Transportation Research Institute’s study “Predicting Truck Crash Involvement 2018,” drivers aged 20-39 were the group most likely to be involved in a crash.

Statistics for violations and convictions were taken from Motor Carrier Management Information System inspection and crash data, along with Commercial Driver’s License Information System conviction data, from 2013. From Jan. 1, 2013, until Dec. 31, 2014, the drivers in this analysis were involved in 31,098 FMCSA reported crashes.

“For the 11 conviction categories predicted to more likely be involved in future crashes, drivers between the ages of 20 and 39 had the highest percentage in all categories,” the OOIDA Foundation wrote in its one-pager on the topic.

The 11 conviction categories and the ages most likely to have a conviction are:

  • Improper lane/location – 25-34.
  • Reckless/careless/inattentive – 20-29.
  • Improper/erratic lane changes – 25-29 and 75-79.
  • Improper turn convictions – 25-34.
  • Following too closely – 20-34.
  • Drivers with any conviction – 20-34.
  • Speeding by 15 mph or more – 20-34.
  • Speeding by 1-15 mph – 20-29.
  • Driving too fast for conditions – 20-24.
  • Failure to obey stop sign – 25-39.
  • Failure to obey traffic signal – 25-39 and 80-84.

The 10 violation categories and the ages most likely to have a violation are:

  • Improper lane change – 75-79.
  • Hours-of-service violations – 20-34.
  • False or no log book (pre-ELD mandate) – 20-29.
  • Speeding violations – 80-89.
  • Disqualified driver – 25-39.
  • Any moving violation – 25-29 and 80-84.
  • Failure to obey traffic control device – 20-34.
  • Out of service – 85-89.
  • Seat belt – 20-24.
  • Size and weight – 20-29 and 80-84.

The OOIDA Foundation said the numbers go against the DRIVE-Safe Act, which would allow 18- to 20-year-old truckers to drive across state lines.

“These facts do not support the case for allowing younger drivers to drive in interstate commerce,” the OOIDA Foundation wrote.

The catalyst for the DRIVE-Safe Act has been the American Trucking Associations’ claim of a driver shortage. However, OOIDA has long claimed that there is no driver shortage. Recently, a federal report affirmed OOIDA’s stance.

The report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics argues that the truck driver market is working just as well as other blue-collar job markets, which can be solved by increasing wages.

BLS concluded that the evidence does not support the theory of a labor shortage within the trucking industry and that increasing wages could alleviate any issues with recruitment and retention.

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

“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.”

Without a driver shortage, there appears to be little reason to begin allowing 18- to 20-year-old truckers to drive interstate.

“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.” 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.