Federal Pilot Program Allows Truck Drivers Age 18-20 to Drive Across State Lines

January 25, 2022

A new federal pilot program allows 3,000 truck drivers aged 18-20 to drive across state lines.

Is this the correct answer to the Truck Driver “Shortage”? Are we exchanging safety for the sake of the supply chain?

Currently, a Class A CDL Truck Driver 18-20 years old can drive within the lines of their home state. Many at the state and federal level would like to see that change in the hope of relieving the sudden supply chain issues we are currently facing.

Is this a short-term fix or a long-term, innovative solution?

Let the debate begin.

During the Illinois state election of 1858, each of the 7 congressional districts throughout Illinois held a debate pitting then-Senator Stephen A Douglas of Illinois against a relatively unknown Republican by the name of Abraham Lincoln.

Abraham Lincoln would lose each of these debates, but he gained a reputation throughout the North for his ideas and vision. Lincoln was then invited to campaign for the presidency, which he won and went on to be known as one of the greatest presidents to serve the office.

Often there is not a clear winner in a debate, but a conversation can begin, points are made, and hopefully, decisions can be made that benefit all through shared information, data, and open minds.

According to the ATA(American Trucking Association), the trucking industry is short 80,000 truck drivers, and the supply chain issues of 2021 / 2022 have spotlighted the trucking industries’ need to bring in more drivers.

However, is allowing 18-year-old drivers to cross state lines the right answer? There are those that will say no, citing safety concerns.

According to the NHTSA fatality reporting system, 6% of Commercial Truck Driver accidents each year involve a driver under the age of 20 years old. Additionally, 19% of accidents involving a driver under the age of 20 involve a fatality, which as of 2017 has seen a 52% increase in fatal accidents compared to the lowest point reported in 2009.

Many drivers would argue that new drivers’ largest entry barriers are not age, but desirable are home time, pay, driver support, and parking.

Today’s truck driver values home time. Many companies that recognize the changing driver values are shifting their truck driver job offerings to include Local and Dedicated home daily jobs, increased pay, and other benefits to help complement the driver’s preferences.

However, all jobs cannot be local driver jobs. Trucking needs OTR drivers, always have and always will. The 3.5 million available truck drivers move 71% of all freight in America.

The Biden administration proposed the multi billion-dollar infrastructure deal will help the trucking industry by providing billions of dollars for better roads, bridges, and ease of commutes, but does not include money for parking. Where are drivers going to rest, sleep and spend time when waiting out hours of service breaks? These are things we have to consider when we debate how to improve the job of a truck driver.

If we want to fix the trucking industry’s driver recruiting pain points, we must work harder to help current truck drivers have a better driving job experience. The best driver recruiters are currently on the road. If you want to make a truck driver job more attractive to new drivers, you must start with your current drivers.

Just as with the great Illinois debates of 1858, there may not be a winner at first. Still, as the trucking industry’s driver shortage continues to be under a microscope, hopefully, there will be solutions that better the truck driving jobs of all current and new drivers.