OOIDA fires back against bills to lower age for truck drivers

February 27, 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 Tuesday, Feb. 26. Supported by the American Trucking Associations, the bill would allowed 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 forced to drive with a speed-limiter capped at 65 mph.

OOIDA contends that all new drivers, regardless of age, should have an extensive driver training program.

“OOIDA is eager to work with elected officials on legislation that helps make trucking a viable and sustainable career choice for Americans who are prepared to enter the driver workforce,” Spencer wrote. “However, we will continue to oppose bills like the DRIVE-Safe Act that jeopardize driver and highway safety in an effort to provide corporate motor carriers the cheap labor they crave.”