DRIVE-Safe Act gradually gaining steam

June 11, 2019

Mark Schremmer


Two bills that would lower the minimum age for truck drivers in interstate commerce from 21 to 18 continue to gain support from lawmakers. As of June 10, the DRIVE-Safe Act reached 83 co-sponsors in the House and 24 in the Senate.

Five members of the House – Reps. David McKinley, R-W. Va.; Richard Hudson, R-N.C.; Glenn Thompson, R-Pa.; Tim Walberg,R-Mich.; and Bob Gibbs, R-Ohio – announced their support for HR1374 on June 10. A total of 11 lawmakers have signed on to the bill since the start of June. A list of all of the co-sponsors can be found here.

An identical bill in the Senate, S569, has added six co-sponsors this month. A complete list can be found here.

The House version of the DRIVE-Safe Act was introduced by Rep. Trey Hollingsworth, R-Ind., on Feb. 26. Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., introduced the Senate version on the same day. Neither bill has made any movement since being introduced.

Both bills would create an apprenticeship program that would allow under-21 commercial motor vehicle drivers to cross state lines. Current regulations allow 18- to-20-year-olds to drive intrastate but not interstate.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association remains opposed to lowering the driving age. OOIDA has said allowing younger drivers in interstate commerce would be a detriment to highway safety.

“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 to lawmakers after the DRIVE-Safe Act was introduced. “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 OOIDA Foundation has cited statistics that younger drivers are more likely to receive a traffic conviction or violation, and a recent federal report affirmed OOIDA’s stance that there isn’t a shortage of truck drivers.

OOIDA contends that without a driver shortage, there seems to be no justification for the DRIVE-Safe Act.

“For decades, our country’s largest motor carriers and 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.”