A new bill introduced in the Senate would allow drivers between 18 and 21 to drive commercial vehicles in interstate commerce after they complete an apprenticeship program.
If this sounds familiar, that’s because it is. A similar bill was introduced in the House back in March. It wasn’t passed and so the Senate is giving it a try. The Senate version even has the same name: The DRIVE-Safe Act. And while the acronym implies that the bill is about safety, a Senator who introduced the bill admits that the real goal is to lower the driving age in order to fight the driver shortage.
“Not only would the DRIVE-Safe Act create new career opportunities for young Kansans, but it would also help move the supply-chain nationwide in a more expeditious manner – benefitting many sectors of the Kansas economy,” said Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS) according to Fleetowner. “This legislation includes important provisions that would help curb the trucker shortage, train safe drivers, and deliver goods and supplies to the Kansans that need them.”
The proposed Senate bill is largely the same as the House bill. It requires drivers to first obtain their CDL. Then they need to log at least 400 hours of on-duty time. At least 240 of those hours need to be spent actually driving while an experienced driver is in the cab with them.
While training, the “apprentices” will need to drive in a truck that has been equipped with safety systems including active braking systems, video cameras, and a speed limiter set to 65mph or less.
The bill was introduced on Thursday, August 16th, so there hasn’t been much public reaction yet. The House version garnered praise from the ATA, but criticism from OOIDA and multiple safety groups.