More stats show why DRIVE-Safe Act is a bad idea

August 28, 2018

Mark Schremmer

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Another statistic shows why allowing younger drivers to operate a commercial motor vehicle in interstate commerce is a bad idea.

According to a recent report from the Governors Highway Safety Association, more than half of 328,000 drowsy driving crashes each year in the United States were caused by drivers younger than 25.

“Driving inexperience coupled with biological changes that impact a teen and young adult’s sleep-wake cycle appear to explain the increased risk,” the Governors Highway Safety Association report said.

Meanwhile, the House and Senate have introduced the DRIVE-Safe Act, which would allow 18- to 20-year-olds to drive a commercial motor vehicle in interstate commerce.

And somehow we’re supposed to believe that this is about improving safety?

Young drivers’ insurance rates are sky-high for a reason. In a previous article by Land Line’s Wendy Parker, she cited statistics from 2013 that said teenagers represented only 7 percent of the U.S population but accounted for 11 percent ($10 million) of the total costs of motor vehicle injuries.

OOIDA President Todd Spencer touched on the topic at the Association’s board meeting in April.

“If safety and crashes are a consideration, you don’t take the age down, you take it up,” Spencer said based on OOIDA’s experience in insuring drivers.

But the truth is that the legislation has nothing to do with safety. Instead, it’s all based on the perception that there is a driver shortage.

However, OOIDA cites statistics that show there is no driver shortage. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, there are 449,000 new entry-level CDL holders and 98,000 reinstatements ever year.

Even though new drivers enter trucking every year, the large fleets aren’t able to retain most of those drivers. Statistics show that the driver turnover rate for large fleets was at 94 percent for the first quarter of 2018. Historically, the turnover rate has often hovered around 100 percent.

The DRIVE-Safe Act isn’t about safety, and it isn’t about a driver shortage. It’s about finding a new crop of drivers for cheap every year. If those drivers burn out, companies will have a fresh wave of high school graduates looking for jobs.

If we want to improve safety, we need to invest in training and keep safe drivers on the road.

Allowing thousands of high-risk, young drivers to operate a big rig across state lines will do the opposite.

Mark Schremmer

Mark Schremmer, associate 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 nearly two decades of journalism experience to our staff.