GRAIN VALLEY, Mo. – The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) is calling on the U.S. House of Representatives to block efforts to lower the age at which a commercial driver’s license can be obtained.
The organization sent a letter to the committee on transportation and infrastructure saying the move would be detrimental to road safety, as well as those seeing to enter the trucking industry as professional drivers.
Two legislative proposals in the U.S. would allow those over the age of 18 to operate a commercial motor vehicle and take it over state lines.
The bills currently before the House 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.
While groups like the American Trucking Associations (ATA) have been lobbying for the younger ages in order to help fleets facing an unprecedented driver shortage, the OOIDA argues the age change will put all road users at risk.
The letter says that CMV drivers under the age of 20 are four to six times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than those that are older.
“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. “The focus should instead be on fixing the staggering turnover rate with better pay and working conditions.”
The letter also mentions a previous attempt to lower the CDL age to 18 in 2001. That attempt was unsuccessful.