A letter signed by the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) and others in the trucking industry has been sent to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee voicing “strong opposition” to two bills being considered by the committee which could lower the interstate CMV driving age to 18.
The two bills in question are H.R. 5358, the Developing Responsible Individuals for a Vibrant Economy (DRIVE-Safe) Act and H.R. 3889, the Waiving Hindrances to Economic Enterprise and Labor (WHEEL) Act. According to the signatories on the letter, implementing either of those bills “would not only be detrimental to road safety, but also to those seeking to enter the trucking industry as professional drivers.”
The act has the support of the American Trucking Association, but OOIDA criticizes the bills as pretending to be about solving the ‘driver shortage’ when in fact they are a way for large carriers to use “less expensive and less experienced labor.”
“We think it’s irresponsible to put young drivers behind the wheel of a truck in order to avoid addressing the real problems of high turnover,” said Todd Spencer, acting president of OOIDA, in a press release. “The focus should instead be on fixing the staggering turnover rate with better pay and working conditions.”
In their arguments against allowing teenage interstate CMV driving, the signatories cite studies which show that those under the age of 21 “lack the general maturity, skill and judgment that is necessary in handling CMVs.” They also claim that those under 21 will be easier for carriers to manipulate into signing predatory lease-to-own schemes and to put up with “increasingly poor working conditions.”
The letter was signed by 14 organizations including OOIDA, Road Safe America, the Truck Safety Coalition, the American Public Health Association, and the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.
You can read the whole letter here.
“This has been tried before and no one with any common sense thought it was a good idea,” said Spencer. “Nothing has changed since that time and no disruptions have ever taken place due to any perceived shortage of drivers. These latest efforts are just more ways to keep driver churn going and keep wages as low as possible.”