Hearing held on bill proposing interstate travel to teen truckers

Missouri residents will want to know about the DRIVE-Safe Act, a bipartisan bill that was introduced back in February 2019. The U.S. Subcommittee on Transportation and Safety held a hearing that largely focused on it because it proposes to open interstate travel to CDL holders between the ages of 18 and 20. Everywhere except Hawaii, the current law is that those under 21 can travel only within the state.

Some groups support it, such as the American Trucking Association, while others oppose it, such as the Owner-Operator Independent Driver Association and the Truck Safety Coalition. The president of the latter brings up a vital point: Teen truckers see a higher crash rate than other truckers, and if they travel in other states where the routes are unfamiliar, they will run an even higher risk for a crash.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has yet to carefully analyze crash data among teen truckers traveling intrastate. Some at the hearing urged the FMCSA to do precisely that and to maintain and update safety regulations as well.

The OOIDA, for its part, argued that the bill may wind up compounding the problems faced in the trucking industry. The reason, it believes, is that the bill is trying to combat a mythical problem: Namely, a shortage of long-haul truckers.

Unfortunately, the reality is that truckers of all ages cause a significant number of crashes every year. Truckers are not immune from drowsy or distracted driving, for instance. In any event, those who are injured by a truck driver guilty of negligence may pursue a personal injury case, but they may want a lawyer to handle each step of the filing process. Third parties may need to come in to gather proof of negligence before the lawyer goes on to negotiations.