Teens are not known to be the safest drivers on the road. The combination of inexperience, youthful bravado, and dangerous habits like texting and driving make teenage drivers more likely to be involved in a motor vehicle crash than any other age group. In fact, teens aged 16 to 19 are nearly three times more likely than drivers over age 20 to be involved in a fatal accident.
Regardless of these statistics, there is an ongoing push by the trucking industry to license teenage drivers for interstate trucking. Before December of 2015, 48 states allowed young drivers aged 18-20, to drive a semi-truck or other large commercial vehicle as long as they stayed within state lines.
The $305 billion transportation bill (the DRIVE Act) passed in December has relaxed these restrictions, though not nearly as far as trucking industry lobbyists had hoped. As part of the new legislation, younger truckers between the ages of 18 and 21 will be allowed to drive big rigs across state lines, so long as they are either military veterans or are current military members or reservists.
Initially, the trucking industry pushed for a program which would allow all drivers aged 19½ and older to apply for a graduated license which would provide experience and training on the unique challenges interstate trucking. Congress rejected this proposed amendment, and approved the language requiring young interstate drivers to be veterans or active duty military personnel.
While many safety advocates applauded the veterans-only language, others worry that the failure to implement graduated licenses could result in an effort to simply lower the interstate trucking age across the board. The trucking industry is facing a crushing shortage of drivers, and many in the industry are looking to younger trainees to fill this gap. When this shortage reaches a critical level, younger drivers could get thrown into long-haul trucking without adequate training or experience.
At Fighting for People Injury Law, our attorneys support measures that will keep everyone safe from trucking accidents, because we know firsthand out these collisions can devastate families. While it remains to be seen if future legislation will allow for 18-year-old cross-country truckers, the new law will at least keep the more irresponsible younger drivers from crossing state lines.
If you or your loved one was injured in a trucking accident due to someone else’s negligence, our Pennsylvania and New Jersey injury attorneys will fight for your right to compensation. For a free consultation about your rights and legal options after an accident, call 215-396-9660 today.