Proposal To Lower The Age Limit For CDL Drivers
The dwindling supply of truck driver workforce is becoming an increasingly larger problem for the freight transportation industry. This is in fact a much more significant problem than most realize. There has been a fair amount of discussion in recent months about different things that could be done to curb the subtle decline in truck drivers in the United States. The American Trucking Associations (ATA) has said it estimates the current driver shortage is in the 35,000-to-40,000 range, and with a combination of retirements and people exiting the industry, carriers need to recruit in roughly 100,000 drivers per year over the next decade to simply keep pace with projected United States freight needs.
One possible solution that has been passed around is the prospect of lowering the age requirement for getting a commercial driver’s license (CDL). Currently, the age to apply for a CDL is 21. The thinking behind this new train of thought is that, by lowering the age to 18, it will encourage more young people to consider commercial transit as a potential career path before they have already made steps in another direction by the age of 21. The ATA last week praised Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) for her bill that takes some positive steps towards alleviating the current environment by proposing that the age commercial drivers can operate across state lines be lowered from 21 to 18 years of age.
Under current federal law, commercial drivers must be at least 21 years old. However, in an effort to address driver-recruiting concerns, the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) has proposed a pilot program to study the merits of recruiting younger drivers. The proposal would require each applicant driver to undergo 48 weeks of intensive training before becoming a full-time driver. All things considered, even though it is difficult to know for certain whether or not a lower age limit would have any significant impact on the number of truck drivers in the United States, the pros of implementing one far outweigh the cons. A move like this would be a bold step forward for the industry, and would surely have a positive effect that would benefit not only trucking, but the commercial world as a whole.
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