Lawmakers renew push to allow teen truckers to operate interstate

This week, several U.S. Senators reintroduced controversial legislation that would allow CDL holders who are under 21 years of age to operate interstate.

The Developing Responsible Individuals for a Vibrant Economy (DRIVE-Safe) Act was reintroduced on March 10 by U.S. Senators Todd Young (R-Ind.) and Jon Teste. A companion bill was introduced in the House by U.S. Representative Trey Hollingsworth.

Lawmakers say that the bill is intended to address the driver shortage.

“Today, 18-year-olds can drive more than 200 miles from New Albany to Gary and back, but they aren’t allowed to drive two miles from New Albany to Louisville,” said Senator Young. “The DRIVE-Safe Act will eliminate this ridiculous regulation and in doing so address the driver shortage while providing new career opportunities for young Hoosiers.”

The bill would change federal law that currently prohibits 18 to 21 year olds from driving a commercial vehicles across state lines, allowing under 21 year old CDL holders to operate interstate.

The DRIVE-Safe Act would work by establishing an apprenticeship training program for under-21-CDL holders. Lawmakers promise that this training program would “ensure these drivers are trained beyond current standards while instituting rigorous safety standards and performance benchmarks.”

As part of the apprenticeship program, young drivers would be required to to complete at least 400 hours of on-duty time and 240 hours of driving time with an experienced driver in the cab with them.

All trucks used in the apprenticeship program must be equipped with safety technology including active braking collision mitigation systems, a video event capture system, and a speed governor set at 65 miles per hour or below.

The DRIVE-Safe Act was last introduced in February 2019. Nearly identical legislation was also introduced in August 2018.

In September 2020, the FMCSA asked for public comment on a pilot program to allow 18 to 20 year olds to operate CMVs interstate.

The American Trucking Associations (ATA) supports the bill and for years has called for changes to the law to allow younger truck drivers to operate interstate.

The Owner-Operator Independent Driver Association (OOIDA) has long opposed the idea of teen truckers for safety reasons and because they say that there is no truck driver shortage.