Senators Ask FMCSA To Lower Truck Driver Age Limit
U.S. Senators have asked the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to lower the age for truckers in response to growing supply chain and employment concerns.
On November 3, US Senators Joni Ernst (Rhode Iowa) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) urged Deputy FMCSA Administrator Mira Joshi to lower the age for commercial vehicles in interstate commerce from 21 to 18 years old.
Other Senators who signed the letter include Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), and Steve Daines (R-Mont.).
Eighty members of the House of Representatives wrote a similar letter to U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Buttigieg on November 4 asking for the FMCSA to push forward with an FMCSA Under-21 Commercial Driver Pilot Program.
In March 2021, the Developing Responsible Individuals for a Vibrant Economy (DRIVE-Safe) Act was reintroduced by U.S. Senators Todd Young (R-Ind.) and Jon Teste. A companion bill was introduced in the House by U.S. Representative Trey Hollingsworth.
A version of the DRIVE-Safe Act has been included as a provision in the infrastucture bill making its way through Congress.
The DRIVE-Safe Act would work by establishing an apprenticeship training program for under-21-CDL holders. Lawmakers promise that this training program would “ensure these drivers are trained beyond current standards while instituting rigorous safety standards and performance benchmarks.”
As part of the apprenticeship program, young drivers would be required to complete at least 400 hours of on-duty time and 240 hours of driving time with an experienced driver in the cab with them.
All trucks used in the apprenticeship program must be equipped with safety technology including active braking collision mitigation systems, a video event capture system, and a speed governor set at 65 miles per hour or below.
The American Trucking Associations (ATA) supports the DRIVE-Safe Act and for years has called for changes to the law to allow younger truck drivers to operate interstate.
The Owner-Operator Independent Driver Association (OOIDA) has long opposed the idea of teen truckers for safety reasons and because they say that there is no truck driver shortage.