Bill to let CDL holders under 21 drive interstate raises concern

Kentucky residents who work in the trucking industry should know about the hearing that the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Transportation and Safety held regarding certain trucking-related issues. The most prominent of these issues was the proposal of a bill back in February 2019 that, if passed, would allow CDL holders under the age of 21 to drive interstate.

All states except Hawaii let drivers obtain a CDL as young as 18, but they can only travel intrastate. The bill, called the DRIVE-Safe Act, would overturn this but ensure that truckers under 21 only start traveling interstate after a probationary period where they complete 400 hours of driving. At least 240 of those hours would have to be with another CDL holder, 21 or older, accompanying them. This, legislators say, may help with the trucker shortage.

Panelists during the hearing raised their concerns about the bill. One, representing the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, argued that the trucker shortage is a myth and that any measures arising from this misperception will only harm the trucking industry.

Another, the president of the Truck Safety Coalition, maintained that truckers under 21 see a much higher rate of crashes than other truckers. He stated that interstate travel puts these inexperienced truckers on routes with which they are unfamiliar, raising the risk for more crashes.

Though the majority of truck collisions are caused by the drivers of passenger vehicles, a significant number are, indeed, the fault of truckers. Even the most experienced truckers can choose to drive while distracted or fatigued. Truck crashes usually result in catastrophic injuries for those in passenger vehicles, but fortunately, there is a way to seek compensation for both monetary and non-monetary damages related to the injuries. Victims may hire a lawyer to help them file against the trucking company.