18-Year-Olds May Soon be Able to Drive Commercial Trucks
CHARLESTON, SC- The postandcourier.com reports that Congress has been considering altering laws regarding commercial trucking routes to allow for drivers between the ages of 18 and 21 who obtain commercial licenses to drive over states lines through Georgia and the Carolinas. The current law allows drivers within that age group to drive within those states, but the South Carolina Trucking Association is backing the program as a potential way to lessen the shortage of drivers that cause problems at seaports such as the Port of Charleston.*
The law would mandate extensive training for the drivers including 400 hours of on-duty time, and a minimum of 240 hours of driving while accompanied by an experienced truck driver. The program would use trucks equipped with certain safety technology such as active breaking collision mitigation systems, speed governors that do not allow the trucks to exceed 65 miles per hour and video cameras.
According to the American Trucking Association, there is a nationwide shortage of about 50,000 commercial truck drivers. The shortage is expected to increase over the next decade to about 174,000, in part because many drivers are over 52 years old, and there are few young people entering the business.
The proposed law is not without critics. Some feel the shortage is actually a myth and that the industry is pushing for the law in order to keep truck driver wages low. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association points to statistics published by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration which indicates there are 449,000 newly licensed entry-level commercial truckers to support their argument that there is not actually a shortage of commercial drivers.
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