ATA Officially Backs "Teen Trucker Bill"by Jana Ritter - Published: 7/22/2015
On July 10th, Congress initially proposed a bill that would reduce the age requirement for interstate CDLs from 21 to 18, and many truck drivers voiced their opposition to the idea. Some feel its just another ploy to avoid paying experienced drivers higher wages, others call it down right dangerous. Well, apparently the ATA think it’s a grand idea because this week they made a public declaration in full support of the bill.
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On Tuesday, the ATA called on Congress to support legislation that would lead to a graduated licensing program for commercial drivers. ATA president and CEO, Bill Graves, said that the ATA supports R. Sen. Fischer’s legislation to take steps towards modifying licensing laws by allowing states to permit limited interstate travel by 18- to 21-year-olds. “We applaud Sen. Fischer for introducing legislation that could bring us closer to a graduated licensing program for commercial drivers hauling freight across state lines. Right now, an 18-year-old can drive a truck within the borders of his state, but not to deliver goods across state lines. This means a young adult could drive a truck from El Paso, Texas, to Dallas – a distance of more than 600 miles – but couldn’t cross the street to deliver that same load from Texarkana, Texas, to Texarkana, Arkansas. This is something we can easily correct and, at the same time, move toward a graduated CDL system,” said Graves.
ATA Executive Vice President Dave Osiecki also explained that this would be a big step toward a graduated licensing program for commercial drivers, which would ultimately produce safer drivers for the industry as well. “Graduated licensing is a proven and effective for reducing the risk of young drivers of passenger vehicles – millions of drivers have gotten their licenses this way – and it has been a top policy priority for many organizations, including some that are attacking Fischer’s proposal now,” Osiecki said. “Research has conclusively shown the benefits of graduated licensing for young drivers. Some groups’ resistance to this commonsense commercial licensing proposal is as illogical as the current rules limiting interstate driving by young adults,” he added.
According to Graves, another major benefit of Fischer’s proposal is that it will allow states to impose their own safeguards to ensure young drivers learn appropriate behaviors on the road. “This is the way we should be training, not just new truck drivers, but individuals in all fields. States participating in the compacts this bill envisions could limit the types of cargo these drivers could haul, require extra technologies or restrict these trips to certain routes or times,” Graves suggested.
“At a time when the unemployment rate for young adults is nearly triple the national average – and our industry is looking to replace millions of soon-to-be retiring drivers as part of an aging workforce, this bill could be a tremendous boon not just to the trucking industry, but to the economy and to thousands of unemployed young people who might just find their next career,” said Graves.