The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will consider amendments to its Surface Transportation Investment Act of 2021 today, June 16.
Among the amendments are Sen. Todd Young's (R-Ind.) DRIVE Safe Act (S.659), which would allow people under the age of 21 to operate a commercial motor vehicle in interstate commerce via an apprenticeship program.
Currently, 49 states and the District of Columbia allow people as young as 18 to drive a commercial truck, however they are prohibited from crossing state lines.
The DRIVE-Safe 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 additional training above the standard driver training requirements 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.
The legislation being considered today covers just a portion of the eventual surface transportation reauthorization. Senate Commerce is the second of four Senate authorizing panels that must weigh in on an overall bill.
The trucking industry reports that it needs an additional 60,800 truck drivers immediately—a deficit that is expected to grow to more than 160,000 by 2028.
The COVID-19 pandemic further exacerbated a longstanding truck driver shortage due to the temporary closures of state DMVs and truck driver training schools.
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