Proposed Legislation Would Allow Teen Drivers to Drive Trucks Across State Lines
When teenagers learn to drive in many states, they must master driving in stages, with limitations on who they can drive with and when they can drive for their first few years of driving. This is known as a graduated licensing system and its goal is to make teens safer drivers and prevent some of the serious injuries and deaths caused in accidents with teenagers behind the wheel. However, Congress has proposed legislation that would permit 18-year-olds to drive big-rig trucks across state lines. Currently they cannot do so until they are 21 years old.
Congress Wants to Implement a Six-Year Pilot Program
Some of the impetus for this new legislation is the shortage of truck drivers that will increase as older drivers retire. In addition, 48 states—including Iowa—allow 18-year-olds to obtain a commercial drivers’ license (CDL) and drive within their state lines. For some drivers in big states such as California and Texas, these teen truckers already drive routes of 600 miles or more. The federal legislation proposes the following:
- The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) would develop a six-year pilot program allowing 18-year-olds to drive trucks across state lines. It would create three different “compacts” around the country where up to four neighboring states would allow teen truckers to cross state lines, but only up to 100 miles from their home state.
- States would be permitted to enter into agreements with other states under the program administered by FMCSA.
- States could put limitations on teen truckers, such as restricting the type of loads they carry, the routes they could drive, and the times of day they could drive.
The trucking industry of course supports this bill and believes that it would allow those out of high school who are demographically underemployed a career opportunity in an industry that needs more workers. However, others question whether young drivers are mature enough to handle these enormous trucks safely and worry about an increase in truck accidents if teens—already at risk of causing crashes—are allowed to get behind the wheel of a truck on a daily basis.
Do you believe 18-year-olds should be allowed to drive big-rig trucks? Share your opinion in the comments.
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