Since September 2020, the FMCSA has been considering the possibility of a pilot program allowing for teen truck drivers to haul across state lines. While some trucking organizations stand behind the possibility of the pilot program, many individuals are not so sure about the safety of the proposed program.
Although the potential program is still in the planning stages, the American Trucking Association has come out in support of the lowered interstate driving age, claiming that it could help with the controversial truck driver shortage facing the industry, which has only been exacerbated by the pandemic.
”We came into the pandemic with a need to put more men and women in the seats, uh, behind the wheel of trucks,” said Bill Sullivan of the American Trucking Associations to Action Jax News.
”So we’re talking about 400 hours of supervised training, on top of that, of mentorship, on top of that with four safety technologies as a requirement. We believe there is a safe enough way to do it.”
However, in a poll conducted by CDLLife, 83% of the 1,000 trucker respondents claimed that they do not support the interstate driving age being lowered to 18, citing both safety and insurance rate concerns.
Additionally, highway safety groups such as Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT) say that the lowering of the truck driving age could have serious safety consequences, both for the young truckers and others on the roadways with them.
”They’ll die on the highway and they’ll take more of us with them,”Russell Swift, co-chair of Parents Against Tired Truckers, whose son was killed after slamming into a rig stuck blocking the highway after a poor U-turn decision. That truck’s driver was only 17, and was not legally allowed to be behind the wheel of the truck.
”We’re going to be the guinea pigs on the highway to see if the system works. Your family and my family are gonna be out there with them to see if he can do the job, right. We’re, he’s, we’re the ones being tested. Can we get out of his way before he kills us?” Swift said.
The FMCSA closed comments on the pilot program in November of 2020, but you can read more about the proposal here.