Internet sales are fueling high demand for cross-country shipping, while many don’t have an interest in a career driving a semi truck. 18 to 21 year-olds’ may soon get the right to drive semi-trucks.
Would you trust your 18-year-old behind the wheel of 80,000 pounds of metal and cargo?
That’s what some trucking industry leaders and lawmakers want. Why?
The trucking industry currently has a shortage of 51,000 drivers. And this, despite many truckers routinely making $42,000 or more per year.
What’s causing the shortage?
The Washington Post surveyed dozens of drivers ranging from 4 months to 40 years of experience. And they found what you’d expect. Drivers don’t like:
- They rarely see their family
- Other drivers, the police, and retailers give them little respect
- They sit all day, can’t find healthy food, and put on lots of weight
- Their risk of divorce goes sky high
- The pay isn’t that good if you adjust for inflation and the cost of living
- Bonuses typically come with so many strings attached that they can’t actually get them
So, as you can see, it’s clear why many people don’t want to drive a big rig for a living.
But, since most 18-21 year-olds don’t have a family, they may enter and tolerate the career for a longer time.
The Obvious Problem With Teen Drivers
Of course, you’re probably thinking, “Do we really want teen drivers in control of 40 tons of metal and cargo? They cause enough accidents driving regular automobiles!”
…And you’re concern is a valid one.
Take a look at this 2014-15 crash, injury, and fatality data from the AAA Foundation:
As you can see, 18-19-year-olds are the second most likely age group to cause any sort of crash, and automobile crashes with injuries. They’re the third most likely group to cause a fatal crash.
Putting them behind the wheel of a 40-ton truck sounds like a recipe for disaster!
Yes, companies in need of shipping cargo by truck would have their drivers. But, it looks as though the costs to the rest of society would far outweigh the benefits of more drivers.
And you know how big corporations who ship billions in goods each year just love to pay fair money when their drivers cause truck accidents… (sarcasm intended!)
Will The Requested Regulation Actually Become Law?
Currently, Senator Jerry Moran of Kansas (Kansas City is a huge trucking hub) is sponsoring a bill that would allow people ages 18-21 with CDLs to drive across state lines.
Driving the need for change are companies like Amazon, Walmart, and eBay, and hundreds and thousands of small companies who need to ship much higher volumes of goods across state lines.
Apex CDL Institute, also based in Kansas City, Kansas has teamed with the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association and many local traffic safety groups to lead the opposition.
At this point, it’s impossible to predict what will happen. But clearly, big companies with interest in increasing the number of truck drivers to deliver their goods have a strong interest in seeing this bill pass.
For now, all you can do is hang on tight and see what happens.
Shane V. Mullen is an attorney licensed by the State of Texas for the general practice of law, and the Managing Partner at Mullen & Mullen Law Firm in Dallas, TX. His firm focuses exclusively on personal injury law and has been in business for 40 years. Before becoming a lawyer, Shane worked for his father as an accident injury claims investigator.