In 2018, a bill was issued in both houses of US Congress called the DRIVE-Safe Act. This bill is designed to combat driver shortages by allowing commercial drivers, ages 18-20, to drive commercial motor vehicles interstate.
Current federal law states that these drivers are currently legal for intrastate transit, but cannot cross state lines.
The bills were introduced by Representative Duncan Hunter (R-CA) in the House of Representatives, and Senator Todd Young (R-IN) in the Senate. Each bill has significant, bi-partisan support in both chambers, has been introduced to the general assembly, and is being considered by the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit.
This is the content of the bill.
The bill has garnered both significant support and controversy.
It has garnered support from the trucking community – ATA President Chris Spear calls the act, “a common-sense proposal that will open enormous opportunities for the 18- to 21-year-old population.” It would:
• Help mitigate driver turnover
• Attract workers from a younger age before they choose alternate carrier paths
• Create a greater supply of drivers
• Benefit state border towns and communities
• Offer greater employment opportunities to veterans and others with CMV experience that are not 21 years old
Many argue that these drivers already make longer intrastate drives in states like California or Florida. Drives from Indianapolis to Cincinnati would be far shorter.
The bill is not without opposition.
• Drivers in the 18-21 year old age bracket are some of the most at-risk drivers
• Drivers may not have achieved significant maturity and experience handling larger vehicles
• Over-the-road trucking has significant responsibility with time management, vehicle management, and general safety
Both groups are soon to have an answer on what to do with younger drivers. In 2015, a law was passed, called the FAST Act – a pilot program to study younger drivers’ interstate driving abilities. The act begins in early 2019 and is focusing study on approximately 200 armed forces member or former members between ages 18-20. The study will run for about a year for initial findings and is expected to issue a final report by 2023.
The bills are still in committee but are expected to bring a vote to the general assembly later in 2019 or early 2020.