The American Trucking Association has announced their agenda for 2015 which predictably lists HOS fixes and highway funding at the top of their priorities, but they also have one goal that’s a bit of a surprise. They want to lower the minimum driver age to 18 years old.
Currently, the federally mandated minimum driver age for Class A CDL drivers is 21 years old. There are multiple reasons for this, but the prevailing logic is that driving is dangerous, driving big trucks even more so, and teenagers tend to be bad drivers.
According to some however, a minimum age of 21 could be a leading cause of the “driver shortage.”
Dave Osiecki, Executive Vice President of the ATA, has says that trucking is missing out on a lot of drivers because when kids graduate high school, those who don’t move on to college go to trade schools or into another profession – but due to minimum age requirements, that profession is never trucking.
“We all know the 18- to 21-year-old period is a time where we lose kids coming out of high school that don’t go to college but go to trade schools and into construction and other competing industries,” Osiecki said.
He does admit however that “Not every 18- or 19-year old should be behind the wheel of a truck,” and points to good training and proper oversight and monitoring as a way to make sure these kids stay safe behind the wheel.
The ATA aren’t the only ones who think lowering the minimum age is a good idea. A rapidly aging work force with only a few younger truckers joining every year doesn’t paint a good picture for the future of the industry’s work force. Shannon Newton, president of the Arkansas Trucking Association, shines some light on the grim situation in an interview with Arkansas Online.
“[The trucking industry] employed significantly more drivers in the 80s and 90s,” Newton said. “If you imagine, at that time, we attracted people who were somewhere between the ages of 25 and 40. Then you fast-forward 20 years, we still employ those same people. That does not set up for the future of the industry.”
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