Senator Todd Young of Indiana is leading a group of legislators in unveiling a new program to enable truck drivers under the age of 21 to cross state lines, which is currently prohibited. The DRIVE-Safe Act, (Developing Responsible Individuals for a Vibrant Economy) aims to enhance safety training and includes an apprentice program that allows individuals under the age of 21 to operator commercial motor vehicles for interstate commerce. While this proposed legislation is not a new topic, it has gained momentum from both sides of the aisle and has the support of organizations such as the American Trucking Association (ATA) and the International Foodservice Distributors Association (IFDA).
Commercial driver shortages are nothing new in the trucking industry, and the average age for truck drivers in the U.S. is 46 years old, meaning companies are facing a retirement workforce. With widescale implementation of electric vehicles still years away, there are concerns that there will not be enough drivers to keep up with the ever-growing freight volumes. The ATA projects, “over the next decade the trucking industry will need to hire roughly 1.1 million new drivers, or an average of nearly 110,000 per year to keep up with demand.” What would this mean for consumers if the driver shortages go unchecked? Consumers will most likely see higher prices for goods, longer delivery times, and possibly items out of stock.
According to proponents of this new legislation, the DRIVE-Safe Act would dramatically improve safety on the roadways by enhancing safety training protocols. Currently in 49 states in the U.S., 18–20 year old’s can operate large commercial vehicle by obtaining their commercial driver’s license (CDL). Obtaining a CDL only requires an individual to pass a written exam as well as a road test. The ATA states, “Under the DRIVE-Safe Act, obtaining a CDL would only be the first step in the process. Applicants would then be required to undergo 400 hours of intensive training while being evaluated against specific performance benchmarks. Using only trucks equipped with the latest safety technology before they are approved to cross state lines.”
For more information regarding the DRIVE-Safe Act, the ATA has posted a video to their media page and can be found following the link below.