Representatives Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) and Trey Hollingsworth (R-Ind.), with support from the International Foodservice Distributors Association (IFDA) and the American Trucking Associations (ATA), recently introduced legislation that would allow commercial drivers aged between 18 and 21 to engage in interstate trucking.
Currently, most states allow people as young as 18 to drive a commercial truck, however they are prohibited from crossing state lines.
The DRIVE-Safe Act, officially named the Developing Responsible Individuals for a Vibrant Economy Act, would allow younger drivers who have met the requirements to obtain a CDL to engage in a two-step program of additional training that would then allow them to drive in interstate commerce. The training includes performance benchmarks that each candidate must achieve.
The program will require these drivers 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 for training in the program must be equipped with safety technology including active braking collision mitigation systems, video event capture, and a speed governor set at 65 miles per hour or below.
ATA for years has sought solutions to a growing shortage of commercial truck drivers needed to haul increasing amounts of freight.
IFDA said a shortage in drivers has disproportionally impacted the foodservice distribution industry, which requires the timely delivery of hundreds of thousands of products each day.
IFDA said the current federal prohibitions on younger drivers crossing state lines is particularly problematic in regions like the greater D.C. metro area where an emerging driver would be prohibited from making a quick trip between Arlington, Va., and Bethesda, Md. But the same driver could haul a load from Arlington to Norfolk, Va., a more than six-hour drive roundtrip.
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