Are You Ready to Trust Your Big Rig to a Teen Driver?

August 18, 2015

Trusting Your Big Rig To A Teen

What is more frightening than self-driving trucks maneuvering 80,000 pounds of rig and cargo down the highway? For many people it is the thought of their teenage son or daughter getting licensed to drive. But citing driver shortages, many in Congress are pushing to lower the minimum age for truck drivers to 18.

Safety concerns

The total number of crash deaths for teens have been steadily declining since 2002. But according to 2013 numbers, drivers under 21 had a 66 percent higher rate of fatal vehicle crashes than people over 21. These disheartening numbers come from the Transportation Department's Fatality Analysis Reporting System.

Jackie Gillan is president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety. She said allowing inexperienced drivers to work up to 82 hours a week and drive trucks weighing 80,000 pounds is high-risk and could result in "unbelievable devastation".

Trucking association views

Dave Osiecki, who is chief of advocacy for trucking associations, points out that teens are currently allowed to operate commercial trucks within the borders of their own states without any limitations on mileage.

Osiecki goes on to say that it is senseless to let these young drivers haul loads all across the highways of their state, yet prevent them from crossing the state's border.

He emphasizes that the trucking industry is in full support of lowering the minimum driving age. Osiecki says, "It would be good for our industry, it would be good for commerce, it would be good for the economy."

Other views

In 2005, the Bush administration planned to lower the age for commercial truck drivers to 18. The plan was scuttled due to overwhelming opposition for the change from the general public. Labor unions have weighed in on the issue by saying the current driver shortage should be addressed with higher pay for truckers and improved working conditions.

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