The U.S. Senate has followed the House in proposing legislation to allow eighteen to twenty-one year olds to drive interstate.
On August 16, Senators Todd Young (R-Ind.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), and Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) introduced the Developing Responsible Individuals for a Vibrant Economy (DRIVE-Safe) Act as a companion bill to legislation introduced in the House back in March.
According to a press release from the office of Senator Young, the DRIVE-Safe Act was drafted in response to the “driver shortage in the trucking and logistics industry.”
From the news release:
“Though many states allow individuals to obtain a commercial driver’s license at the age 18, federal law currently prohibits those operators from moving goods from state to state until they are 21. The DRIVE-Safe Act creates a training program that would allow for the legal operation of a commercial motor vehicle in interstate commerce by commercial driver’s license holders under the age of 21. The apprenticeship training program would help ensure younger drivers are trained beyond current standards while instituting rigorous safety standards and performance benchmarks.”
The bill would require that an under 21 driver complete 400 hours of on-duty time and 240 hours of driving time with an experienced driver in the cab before operating interstate by themselves. The House bill has the same requirement.
Senator Inhofe touts the bill as a way for younger people to jump start their career in trucking: “By expanding the opportunity for all commercial license holders to engage in interstate commerce, we can meaningfully address the driver shortage while improving transportation safety and give younger Americans the ability to be competitive in a strong economy so they can fully benefit from a skilled career.”
The American Trucking Association has come out in support of the bill. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association opposes allowing under 21 drivers to operate interstate, arguing that there is no real driver shortage and that younger drivers could be detrimental to highway safety.