At least 42 different trade associations have sent a letter urging Congress to pass a bill which would allow drivers under 21 to drive commercial vehicles across state lines. The American Trucking Association has signed on, but the majority of groups who signed the letter are from another industry entirely: the food retailing and manufacturing industry.
Groups who signed the letter include American Trucking Association, Food Marketing Institute, and National Grocers Association. So why is “big food” writing to Congress about a trucking bill? According to them, it’s because of the ‘driver shortage.’
In the letter, the groups use numbers often cited by the ATA. They say that there is currently a shortage of 50,000 truck drivers, which should grow to 174,000 by 2026. They claim that the shortage of drivers will not only cause prices to skyrocket, but wait times as well. And that provides insight into why an industry that deals largely in perishable goods is the first to speak up.
“The truck driver shortage is slowing the movement of commerce in this country, raising consumer prices and wait times for goods. Nowhere is this threat more evident than in the foodservice distribution industry, which delivers food and supplies to the over 1 million professional kitchens across the country every day,” Mark Allen, President and CEO of the International Foodservice Distributors Association, said in a statement. “The DRIVE-Safe Act is a common-sense proposal that will open enormous opportunities for an emerging workforce and strengthen safety training programs.”
The DRIVE-Safe Act would provide a pathway for young people between the ages of 18 and 21 to earn the right to drive interstate. You can read our in-depth coverage of the bill here, and OOIDA’s reaction to the bill here.