A bill has been proposed in the Senate that would allow drivers as young as 18 to earn their CDLs and drive nationwide.
Currently the every state allows drivers over 18 to earn their CDLs, but a federal law prohibits any driver under the age of 21 from hauling cargo across state lines, or even hauling cargo within one state that has been or will go over state lines. Now however, Senator Deb Fischer has proposed a bill that will create a pilot program to see if younger drivers can safely handle driving interstate routes.
While introducing the bill, Sen. Fischer pointed to the driver shortage that the industry faces. Industry groups like the ATA have called for a reduction of the minimum driver age in the past, saying that by the time prospective truckers have turned 21, they are already a few years down another career path and so lose interest in becoming truckers. Indeed, the ATA praised the bill, saying that it “would be a tremendous benefit for trucking and the economy.”
“In each of the continental United States, a person can get a commercial driver’s license and drive a truck at the age of 18, but federal law prevents them from driving across state lines until they reach the age of 21,” said ATA President and CEO Bill Graves. “It is illogical that a 20-year-old can drive the 500 miles from San Francisco to San Diego, but not the eight miles from Memphis, Tenn., to West Memphis, Ark. – or simply cross the street in Texarkana. Even more illogical is that a 20-year-old may not drive a truck in any state if the cargo in it originated outside the state or will eventually leave the state by some other means.”
According to the ATA, the trucking industry has a current shortage of 35,000 to 40,000 drivers and will need to recruit 100,000 new drivers per year just to keep up with demand. Not everyone is so certain that lowering the age minimum is the best way to fix that issue however.
OOIDA stated that no changes should be made until a comprehensive ruling can be made on minimum driver training requirements.
“OOIDA’s priority regarding CDL rules is ensuring that the entry-level driver training rule moves through the process now that the negotiated rulemaking committee has come to consensus,” said an OOIDA spokesperson. “No changes to existing CDL requirements should be considered until these important standards are in force.”
Next Story: Senate Committee Seeks To Rush Speed Limiters, EOBRs
Source: truckinginfo, gobytrucknews, thetrucker
35 comments. Add a comment.
There is no driver shortage,just a shortage of people willing to work for free. Senator if you want to address the real issue make companies pay for all time spent working, no “task” pay. When people can’t make ends meet they tend to find other employment.
Agreed. I found that there were multiple loading/unloading delays. This caused my 10 hour break delay and consequently was not be able to return home. Often I was within minutes of dropping load however needed to park truck at local truck stop and ask my wife to pick me up. This cut away from my ten hour break as well. Later that night my wife would have to drive me back to retrieve semi and deliver load and drop trailer. Of course this was unpaid time. It is insane how inflexible regulations steal your time. People outside trucking have no idea the cascading consequences of driving regulations. I don’t believe trucking companies understand. I got out of any truAgreed. I found that there were multiple loading/unloading delays. This caused my 10 hour break delay and consequently was not be able to return home. Often I was within minutes of dropping load however needed to park truck at local truck stop and ask my wife to pick me up. This cut away from my ten hour break as well. Later that night my wife would have to drive me back to retrieve semi and deliver load and drop trailer. Of course this was unpaid time. It is insane how inflexible regulations steal your time. People outside trucking have no idea the cascading consequences of driving regulations. I don’t believe trucking companies understand. I got out of any truck driving in which a ten hour break prevented me from returning home. It was grueling.
Whew, really, how do I edit that?
Bingo! Ditto! Drives me INSANE. That’s why I’m outa this biz September 1st.
If they’re going to lower the minimum age to 18 yrs,then the rookie should be required to drive team with a seasoned driver for no less than 12 months.
Walter Zoomie says
Umm…too many damn rules is the problem.
Even though they bitch about them constantly, truck drivers really do love them some rules don’t they?
AND go be a graduate of at least a 160 hr. truck driving school. No CDL mill grads!!
Nick Hearn says
Not to mention it will still be up to the insurance companies who will have the final say on age restrictions.
Agreed. I failed out of college at 21 and went to work for a local cab company. When I tried to get a job at a competing limo outfit 3 years later they said “nobody under 25 can get a chauffeur’s licence according to our insurance company.” Heck at that point I had more experience than 3/4ths of their drivers!
Not too happy with this since the ata is for it.
The feds keep changing our industry and then blaming us for the results… with more rules of course…
Corky Freeman says
The large ATA members are the ones having a shortage of drivers. There’s only so many gullible enough to work for these seat meat companies. They’re rapidly burning through all the scams to lure unsuspecting victims…..phony bonuses, phony lease-purchases, unattainable pay levels etc.. Now they’re pushing to allow drivers to drive solo on a learners permit. They’re vultures & nothing more.
To the editor of the article: We already know about the skill levels of 4-wheeler drivers…for your next update, I have some great video footage (from which many stills are available) of my friend’s three-year-old daughter playing with the steering wheel of a real 18-wheeler.
I have been driving for 10 years and challanger motors in canada just told a new driver they will not pay him for the first 4hrs of waiting to load. He is on duty but not getting paid, every hour a trucker is in the truck or responsible for the vehicle or load he should be paid.
No wonder they can’t keep their drivers from leaving.
Scraping into that barrel bottom so deep now that ceos’ are getting splinters under their nails. Cradle robbers. Trucking has reached a new low. But then, it finds a new low every day.
There couldn’t be a worst idea!!! I’m 48 yrs old. Got my CDL at 21. At 21 I wasn’t ready to handle the resoinsibility of driving the big truck. It’s one thing thing to let out the clutch and move forward but parking, backing, safe turning, maintaining a safe stopping distance and much much more would be a very real challenge for 18 yr-olds. We haven’t seen truck accidents like we’ll see in the event this bill passes. May seem like a good idea in the office but it’s a V-E-R-Y bad idea in real life, Senator.
I couldn’t disagree more with your comment. Sure u have a bunch of idiotic people out on the road, Including Truckers who have decades of experience. I got my Class A CDL when i was 18. I have been driving for 2 years moving lumber all around CT. Sure an 18 wheeler is difficult……but only if your a complete idiot who dosen’t have any common sense. I say any responsible driver whether 18 or over 21 should be able to haul product anywhere as long as they know what their doing. It makes sense. an 18 year old can join the army and go overseas into combat, but i cant drive over the CT border into MA because im TOO YOUNG? Give me and every other responsible driver a break.
I think you should put more trust in the next generation. There are many who aren’t cut out for it. But there’s just as many responsible and smart people who know what they want. I’ve hauled 80,000 pounds of lumber across CT I know I’d be fine. the regulations are the problem. You have 1000s if young people that want to work, but you cut them off. You don’t even bother to give them a chance. I say pass it, give us a chance and if it dosen’t work out then reinstate it. But until then this industry has nothing to loose.
I’m 20 can’t drive out of state been driving for a year and it’s really killing my wallet i can drive better than any 40 year old who had to go to school because they have never been around trucks I say if you can pass all the test you have to go through your as good anyone one Elsa pass the bill. If your worried about an 18 year old making the roads dangerous you need to look at the officer who passed him
It’s not about weather an 18 year old can do it or not it’s about weather they’ll use common sense once there on there own and I’m sorry but most not all 18 year olds are mature enouf too be out there every day u read about these young kids killed I’m a car accident because of messing around how do u think someone is going too feal when that 18 year old kid kills somebody’s family I grew up in this industry my dad has been a fleet owner for years and I own my own and I pray everyday they never change the law people need time too be a kid and do there stupid mistakes first
Rob S says
What do the insurance companies have to say? If the ATA carriers paid and treated their drivers well there would not be such a shortage. There are companies out there that have very little driver turnover.
Many of the present graduates of the bs schools cant drive now, cant back a truck, are too busy with their texting, ipad games or laptop to safetly drive down the road or even maneuver in a parking lot…maybe deb needs sit in a truck stop from 5pm till around midnite im sure she would reconsider her idiotic bill….lord help the few real drivers still holding on..
Darren Ammons says
Just plain sick of the ATA and big carriers, they are the dregs of the world! They push for un needed and ridiculous electronic safety devices speed limiters, EOB’S and any contrivance they can think of in the name of so called safety…. “But we know what they are doing is just leveling the playing field so they quit loosing drivers to the smaller better paying carriers. But then they force idiotic laws down our throats ie: no training and now handing over big rigs to teenagers just out of high school! Sad to see!
Corey Jackson says
This bill has Werner, C R England, Swift, Schneider, Covenant, U S Express, and JB Hunt dung all over it. They are the only companies who would even entertain this birdbrain idea. I’m sorry, but 18 year olds are not mature enough to handle the responsibility of an 18 wheeler. At least OTR driving anyway. Maybe if these jackboot companies cut out their bullcrap policies aimed at robbing their drivers, they could actually keep drivers.
How can we get Deb and other people in Congress behind the wheel? The members should be reading the want ads for drivers. Can we get her email and tell her that they don’t need to hire 18 year olds who are still learning to driver in various types of weather and road conditions. What they need is to start paying drivers a living wage, not this so many cents a mile and etc………….
Children coming out of high school will see a huge $. GO for it and then quit because they are not home. The turnover rate will increase. The few that do stay will end up in horrific accidents. 18 is two years passed 16 and I remember how I drove a car I was a crazy driver. Not to mention that more and more kids these days are out of control.
DON’T PUT CHILDREN BEHIND THE WHEEL OF AN 80,000 BOMB.
“According to recent findings, the human brain does not reach full maturity until at least the mid-20s. (See J. Giedd inReferences.) The specific changes that follow young adulthood are not yet well studied, but it is known that they involve increased myelination and continued adding and pruning of neurons. As a number of researchers have put it, “the rental car companies have it right.” The brain isn’t fully mature at 16, when we are allowed to drive, or at 18, when we are allowed to vote, or at 21, when we are allowed to drink, but closer to 25, when we are allowed to rent a car.”
Young Adult Development Project – Human Resources at MIT
hrweb.mit.edu › youngadult › brain
I don’t trust the Ada! I BELIEVE the company’s want a surplus of drivers for 2 main reasons. 1 the CSA points that travel with driver’s and company. 2. Create a surplus of drivers that drives down wages. Young driver’s like 18 would do as their told break laws , run illegal which people of age determine consequences first. Teenager’s typically take more risks,ignoring laws and safety of others. BAD IDEA!!!!
It’s shortsighted too. If the ATA blows through an entire generation of new drivers with bad CSA scores, they won’t be able to use them afterwards.
This just proves the argument that all these regulations are not about safety. It is all about control. They can control an 18 year old. Mold them into a system that they want where they can watch your every move. No privacy, no right to run your business the way you see fit. If it was truly about safety do you really think putting an 18 year old behind the wheel of a rig is a good idea??
Davion Brewer says
I disagree with all these comments , i am 18 now & speaking for all the other 18 year old that loves to drive i think we can handle it really.
I too am an 18 year old. I went through all the required training necessary to acquire a Class A CDL, graduated from an accredited truck driving school and passed a DMV approved knowledge and skills test. What doesn’t make much sense to me is how I go through all the trouble same as everyone else to get their license but end up at a standstill because of a federal law that prevents me from crossing state borders. I believe if someone is passionate about being a truck driver at a young age should be backed up and supported not ridiculed and criticised. Especially in this industry with the shortage of drivers it has.
I agree if you can pass the CDL school and obtain a CDL and pass the knowledge tests you should be able to drive a truck! I’ve been around truck Driving all of my life and yes it’s not easy but with the right trainng you’ll be fine! Yes trucking isn’t for everyone and yes people are idiots but the idiots you people are referring too would not be able to pass the CDL classes or the knowledge tests! I say pass it but make the CDL schools longer!
Jakob Shepard says
I feel this should be passed I’m 18 years old and some may say I’m too immature for this but with enough safety practice and my willing determination to do the job right I think I should get a chance at doing something I’ve always wanted to do since 18 makes me a legal adult I should be aloud to drive a commercial vehicle across state lines doing work that needs to be done and also allowing me to experience all of America at a younger age and help prepare me for life.