The trucking industry is currently trying to pass a bill that would lower the commercial driving age to 18, allowing teenagers to operate 80,000-pound vehicles.
However, many are opposed to the bill, stating it will lead to a sharp increase in truck accidents.
Supporters of this legislation say such a bill would help resolve the shortage of commercial truck drivers, and it will also require safety training through a graduated licensing program.
Still, safety groups are in stark opposition to this legislation, pointing out statistics that prove younger drivers have higher incidents of vehicle crashes.
In fact, teen truck drivers are four to six times more likely to be involved in a truck accident, which greatly increases the chance of crash-related fatalities.
As baby boomers retire, trucking companies are looking to fill their shortage of drivers. Additionally, this shortage trend is predicted to worsen over the next few years.
Teenagers out of high school usually have a harder time finding employment, and the trucking industry believes a graduated licensing program could be a solution to both issues.
This isn’t the first time a plan like this has been presented before the Senate. In the 1990s, the Bush Administration considered implementing a graduated licensing program that would lower the age of commercial vehicle drivers, but not without creating certain classifications and restrictions.
Current legislation would also focus on certain age-related limitations. Teen truck drivers would have greater restrictions on the types of cargo they carry, the time they carry it and the roadways they use to transport the cargo.
The proposed bill would also involve the creation of a six-year pilot program by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The program, which focuses on driver safety, would be the first step in the graduated licensing program.
Opponents, such as the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, say if the legislation is passed, it will prove disastrous and create unsafe driving conditions and more roadway fatalities.
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