A Senate bill would instruct the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to conduct a pilot study of lowering the age at which Class A CDL holders can drive trucks across state lines in the U.S.
The Commercial Driver Act (S.1672), introduced by Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE) and co-sponsored by Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT), would allow contiguous states to enter into compacts to standardize the licensing requirements for drivers— including those under age 21– to operate commercial motor vehicles in interstate commerce, reports Heavy Duty Trucking.
Not mentioned in the bill is the concept of graduated CDL licensing, which calls for allowing 18- to 20-year olds to work as apprentice drivers to gain on-the-road experience leading to becoming fully licenced at age 21. Presumably, states that would take part in any standardization pilots enabled by the legislation might consider studying the apprenticeship model.
The American Trucking Associations favors that approach to help draw in younger recruits for driving jobs. According to Dave Osiecki, ATA executive vice president and chief of national advocacy, age-graduated licenses are “not a new concept for passenger car drivers” and that it’s “important to conduct research on this to attract people to this industry.”
ATA said it supports the Act because it helps address the growing shortage of commercial truck drivers.
“As our population grows and our freight demands increase, we are going to need more drivers,” said Bill graves, ATA president & CEO. “The Commercial Driver Act helps solve two problems by expanding the pool of eligible drivers and creating employment opportunities for younger Americans.”
Graves also remarked that, “it is illogical that a 20-year-old can drive the 500 miles from San Francisco to San Diego, but (currently) not the eight miles from Memphis, Tennessee to West Memphis, Arkansas … Even more illogical is that a 20-year-old may not drive a truck in any state if the cargo in it originated outside the state or will eventually leave the state by some other means.”
The bill states that the act would not change “the authority to operate in Interstate Commerce for drivers over the age of 21, including by setting the minimum age requirement to receive a Class A commercial driver’s licence at 18 years of age.”