Highway Bill Lowers Minimum Age for Interstate Truckers
A $305 billion highway bill passed by Congress in December lowered the minimum age for interstate commercial truck drivers from 21 to 18, but only for veterans and current military members and reservists. The bill rejected a proposal to lower the minimum age for all interstate commercial truck drivers.
The trucking industry has advocated for the reduced age requirement as a solution to the nationwide driver shortage currently plaguing trucking companies. Commercial truck drivers between the ages of 18 and 21 are already allowed in all of the 48 contiguous states, and proponents of lowering the minimum age argued that it’s silly to prevent them from crossing state borders.
Missouri Representative Sam graves noted that 18-year-old commercial truck drivers “can drive all the way across the state of Missouri, for instance, but they can’t drive 10 miles in the city of Kansas City because it’s across state lines. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense and it actually hampers a whole lot of business out there.”
Opponents, however, argued that highway safety should be the primary consideration. “Interstate highways are already dangerous enough,” said Representative John Lewis, a Georgia Democrat. “Given the higher accidents and fatality rates of younger drivers, it makes no make sense to make this change without looking at all of the data.”
The resulting bill is a compromise that should appease both sides. The bill addresses the driver shortage problem and creates opportunities for veterans to find employment in the commercial trucking industry. At the same time, it establishes a pilot program of 18 to 21-year-old drivers that will allow safety advocates to collect data to determine if teenage drivers truly can meet the safety standards required of interstate commercial truck drivers. If our interstate highways remain just as safe with the addition of these younger drivers, we can eventually lower the minimum age for all commercial truck drivers.