When politicians introduce legislation to enhance safety on the roadways for truckers and the general public, the benefit of such changes depends upon the details. The Drive-Safe Act, last introduced in 2019, looks to allow younger drivers to cross state lines for trucking companies.
Currently, the legislation, backed by many industries, has bipartisan support in the 2021 U.S. Congress.
What the legislation proposes
According to Fleet Owner, the main purpose of the bill is to allow drivers under the age of 21 to cross state lines when transporting goods. Many observers believe this will help reduce a trucker shortage that impacts the nation’s economy. Currently, federal law prohibits younger drivers from crossing state lines.
The details of the legislation include requirements for drivers younger than 21 to pass 400 hours of additional training. Also, an experienced, older driver must accompany the younger driver on runs. Finally, the truck the younger driver operates must include the following safety features:
- Braking collision mitigation systems
- Forward-facing dash cams
- Speed limiters set at 65mph or lower
- Automatic or automatic-manual transmissions
What groups think about the changes
Some industry groups think the legislative changes will relieve the shortage of qualified drivers, while also addressing the safety concerns that come with younger drivers. Other groups believe allowing younger drivers to potentially travel further in large trucks could result in more accidents.
These groups, including the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, state that drivers under 21 lack the skill and judgment needed to operate commercial vehicles. Based on existing data, the group believes that the legislation, even with its emphasis on safety, could lead to more injuries and fatalities on the nation’s roadways.