WASHINGTON, D.C. – The American Trucking Associations (ATA) is applauding a federal bill that would recognize commercial drivers as young as 18, up from the limit of 21 years that applies today.
Most states allow people to hold a commercial driver’s licence at 18, but they are not allowed to move goods between states until they are 21. In an area like the metro area of D.C., for example, a driver under the age of 21 couldn’t drive from Arlington, Va., to Bethesda, Md. But they could complete a three hour drive between Arlington and Norfolk, Va.
The Drive Safe Act – officially known as the Developing Responsible Individuals for a Vibrant Economy Act — was introduced by republicans Duncan Hunter of California and Trey Hollingsworth of Indiana, and also enjoys support from the International Foodservice Distributors Association.
A young state-licensed CDL holder would still need to complete at least 400 hours of on-duty time and 240 hours of driving time with an experienced driver before being cleared for interstate commerce. All the trucks used in the training will also need to include active braking collision mitigation systems, video even capture, and speed limiters set below 105 km/h.
“This is a common-sense proposal that will open enormous opportunities for the 18-21 year-old population, giving them access to a high-paying profession free of the debt burden that comes with a four-year degree,” said ATA President and CEO Chris Spear. “Moreover, this bill would strengthen training programs beyond current requirements to ensure safety and that drivers are best prepared.”
The International Foodservice Distributors Association says its sector is particularly hard hit by the country’s driver shortage.
“This legislation paves the way for new drivers to sustain a safe and efficient supply chain for the more than one million restaurants and foodservice outlets in the U.S.,” said Mark Allen, president and CEO of IFDA. “This bill creates opportunity while reinforcing a culture of safety to provide our nation’s youth with the critical skills they need to operate a truck in the 21st century.”
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