It is well known that many truck drivers are old-timers. Many trucking industry news sources report that as they retire, there are few young people eager to take their place. According to a recent survey by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), 79 percent of U.S. companies claim they are having a tough time filling positions for hourly workers. Young people like the freedom that comes with working remotely via computer and are not very interested in learning a trade or hands-on work like truck driving. Many in the industry believe allowing people under 21 to be interstate truck drivers could help with the driver shortage.
Rep. Brad Ashford is a Democrat from Nebraska; a state with all house members supporting a bill to lower the minimum age for interstate truck drivers. Ashford says the government needs to remove unreasonable obstacles for job creation.
Omaha.com quotes Ashford: “They’re driving trucks in Iraq at that age, I think they can do the same here.”
Safety advocates are opposed
Jackie Gillan is the president of the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety. Her group says that young drivers are more likely to cause accidents and should not be trusted to navigate an 80,000-pound vehicle along the nation’s major highways. Of course, these same young people are currently allowed to drive big trucks across states like Nebraska, but they are not allowed to drive that same truck from Council Bluffs to Omaha.
The House did approve pursuing a pilot program that will permit drivers under the age of 21 to drive semi-trailers across state lines. A bill approved by the the Senate specifies that the Department of Transportation “may” begin such a pilot program. Supporters of lowering the age restrictions still have a long way to go.
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