Teens To Solve the Truck Driving Shortage?by Jana Ritter - Published: 7/10/2015
While some would even debate whether the truck driving shortage really exists, the crisis been an on-going topic of headline news and has ignited many debates over what the best possible solution is to fill the number of truck driving jobs available across the US. Although most truck drivers have made it clear that more money is the most likely cure all, Congress is now proposing a bill that would reduce the age requirement for interstate CDLs from 21 to 18.
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While Federal regulations currently require commercial drivers to be at least 21 to drive commercial trucks across state lines, this week Republican senators introduced a bill that would allow contiguous states that join together in "compacts" to drop the age to 18 for interstate trips and said there would be no limit on the number of states that could join the compacts. They also said that after four years, the Transportation secretary would report to Congress on whether teens have "an equivalent level of safety" in comparison with older truckers.
Jackie Gillan, president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, says no way. Any parent already knows how worrisome it is to hand a teenager the keys to the family car and this bill would basically be allowing mere teens to drive big rigs weighing as much as 80,000 pounds across the nation’s interstates. Not to mention that they’d be working as many as 82 hours a week, the standard hours already permitted in the trucking industry. “It’s a catastrophe waiting to happen. The combination of inexperience, high-risk driving and large trucks can cause unbelievable devastation," Gillan said.
According to findings from the Transportation Department's Fatality Analysis Reporting System, she may very well have good reason for concern. In 2013, regular drivers ages 18-20 had a 66 percent higher fatal crash involvement rate than drivers who were age 21 years or older.
However, statistics from the American Trucking Association itself has been prompting the industry to scramble for solutions to address the shortage of truck drivers. The ATA estimates that the current shortage of drivers is roughly 35,000 to 40,000, and the number of retirements and individuals leaving the industry will soon require trucking companies to recruit up to 100,000 new truck drivers a year over the next decade.
Dave Osiecki, chief of advocacy for trucking associations, also points out that many states already allow teens to drive commercial trucks within state lines and it doesn’t make sense that we would allow a teen to drive hundreds of miles from one end of the state to the other but restrict that same driver from driving the same distance into another state. "We absolutely support lowering the age limit. It would be good for our industry, it would be good for commerce, it would be good for the economy."
What do you think?Are younger truck drivers going to fill the available truck driving jobs AND be good for the industry overall?