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Exactly How Young Should a Heavy-Duty Truck Driver Be?

Are eighteen-year-olds old enough to drive heavy-duty trucks? This is the question facing Congress once more. The bill is entitled The Developing Responsible Individuals for a Vibrant Economy Act, also known as the DRIVE- Safe Act. It would lower the minimum age from 21, allowing those of at least eighteen years of age to drive heavy-duty trucks commercially. It sits in front of Congress again, though first introduced in March 21st of 2018. While drivers of eighteen are allowed to obtain CDL licenses currently, this bill would allow them to drive across state lines for commercial purposes.

The American Trucking Association backs the bill, noting that the industry is struggling with a shortage of drivers and that the bill contains rigorous stipulations regarding safety and training for these young drivers. They support the bill with another 40 trade associations and companies. Its supporters think the bill might offer a tangible solution to an industry currently suffering a shortage of at least 50,000 drivers. They note the importance of the legislation for the US economy, considering its supply chain relies heavily on the trucking industry. They also point to the current impact of the shortage on the economy. What does it mean for consumers? Currently, it means inflated prices and later deliveries.

It would be inaccurate to suggest the bill is without detractors, however. They cite both safety concerns and fears the plan is merely a band-aid for an industry that instead requires structural changes. The president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association cited statistics showing that younger drivers are significantly likelier to be involved in crashes. This is while some truckers balk at the idea that lowering the driving age would be a more effective fix than raising wages in order to solve the high turnover. 

The bill still enjoys bipartisan support in Congress, however.

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