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Congress tries again to help younger truckers obtain CDL

Feb. 28, 2019
A bipartisan group of lawmakers in the Senate and House introduced the DRIVE-Safe Act.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers in the Senate and House introduced the DRIVE-Safe Act, giving drivers under the age of 21 a faster path to interstate trucking.

Federal regulations currently prevent commercial drivers from crossing state lines until they turn 21, even though they can travel long distances within their home state.

However, the DRIVE-Safe Act would allow certified CDL holders to participate in an apprenticeship program that includes at least 400 hours of on-duty time and 240 hours of driving time with an experienced driver in the cab.

The vehicles used by these younger drivers in interstate trucking must be equipped with active braking collision mitigation systems, forward-facing video event capture and a speed governor set at no more than 65 mph.

Similar legislation was introduced in the last Congress, but failed to advance. Chris Spear, president of American Trucking Associations, believes it will be different this time.

“The strong bipartisan, bicameral support behind this legislation demonstrates how real a threat the driver shortage presents to our nation’s economic security over the long-term – and how serious our lawmakers are about addressing it with common-sense solutions,” Spear said. “We look forward to working closely with supporters on both sides of the aisle as we move this measure across the finish line.”

Rep. Trey Hollingsworth (R-IN) called it “an opportunity to improve the lives of many young Americans, give them opportunities for advancement, increase safety and skills training, and enhance the economy by eliminating the obstacles currently preventing the trucking industry from alleviating its workforce shortage.”

The DRIVE-Safe Act is backed by a coalition of more than 50 industry trade groups. Efforts to lower the interstate driving age in the past were opposed by groups such as the Teamsters union, Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH), Public Citizen, Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA).

Beyond safety arguments, opponents have stated the difficulty in obtaining insurance coverage for younger drivers traveling across state lines.

About the Author

Informa Commercial Vehicle Staff