18 wheeler semi truck on the roadYou may have heard of the Drive Safe Act, but if not, the “DRIVE” acronym stands for Developing Responsible Individuals for a Vibrant Economy. Some people are shocked to learn that if passed, you will be seeing 18-21 year olds driving 18-wheelers across the country, where as now you must be 21 years old to become a professional interstate truck driver. Others find this Act to be a solution for the growing truck driver shortage problem. What do you think of the Drive Safe Act?

The Projected Act

Generally speaking, auto drivers are allowed to secure a driver’s license at the age of 16; however, the current federal law states you must be 21 years old to drive a truck professionally. Keep in mind that 18 year olds can currently be a professional truck driver; however the law requires them to remain in their home state and unable to cross over their state line. This Drive Safe Act is aiming to change that.

On February 26, 2019, The Drive Safe Act bill was presented and since then, much controversy has swirled. This bill to change the current commercial truck driving age is an effort to address a 51,000-truck driver shortage, but opponents argue this is not the solution and merely a Band-Aid.

The Drive Safe Act comes equipped with requirements that must be met before 18-21 year olds can begin interstate commercial truck driving. In an effort to promote “safe driving”, all drivers must perform 240 hours of actual on-duty driving time with an experienced driver and their trucks must be outfitted with dash cameras and automatic braking systems. Once the requirements have been met, these 18-21 year olds will be allowed to haul freight in 18-wheelers across the country.

Pros

Obviously those who see this as a positive, proposed this bill to address the national truck driving shortage along with the economy for younger adults. Those in favor trust that by giving the younger adults (18-21 year olds) this job opportunity, it will enhance job opportunities for the younger generation and reduce the truck driver shortage that now exists.

Furthermore, this Bill does come with driving and safety requirements that must be met in an effort to promote safety on the highways. It is argued that the stringent training and safety-equipped trucks for the drivers should be the focus and not the age of the drivers.

Cons  

Those against the bill are rigorously fighting it in an effort to address safety on the highways. Their argument lies in the fact that studies clearly prove that younger drivers are 3 times more likely to be involved in a fatal accident than older, more experienced drivers. Those against the Drive Safe Act continue to ask how 240 hours of on-duty driving can possibly compare to years of driving experience.

Secondly, those against the proposed bill claim that expanding the job pool to include 18-21 year olds will only Band-Aid the job shortage and instead will drive down truck driver wages. At that point, the job will be less appealing due to the lower wages and will only increase the job shortage. Their thought process is to keep the current age limitation and strive to further increase the wages so that more 21 year olds and older will be inclined to fill those driver positions.

Will the Drive Safe Act Really Promote Safety?

If you have any questions regarding the Drive Safe Act, feel free to contact our office at 828-464-2643 and we will be glad to assist you. The controversy remains until the vote has been finalized, but if passed by legislation, it may get interesting.