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18-Year Olds Driving 18-Wheelers Across State Lines?

by Countable | 3.27.18

What’s the story?

Changes to age limits, whether it’s buying guns or voting, are at the forefront of national discussions. Now, some lawmakers are proposing to address the nation’s trucker shortage by allowing 18-year olds to drive 18-wheelers across state lines, reports the Washington Post.

Should 18-year olds be able to do that?

Currently, every state in the "Lower 48" allows licensed truck drivers under the age of 21 to drive 18-wheelers within the borders of the state in which they are licensed. The proposal, introduced last week by Reps. Duncan D. Hunter (R-CA) and Trey Hollingsworth (R-IN), would scrap the federal rule which prohibits those same drivers from crossing state lines.

The new plan would require:

  • 400 hours logged of on-duty driving

  • 240 hours of working with an experienced driver in the passenger seat

  • Trucks outfitted with automatic brakes, video cameras and a device that keeps speed below 65 mph

Proponents, including the trucking industry, argue that the change would allow for the training of a new fleet of young drivers as older drivers age out. The current median age in the industry is 55. Industry analysts report 1 million drivers will be needed by 2024 to keep up with demand.

Drivers can make up to $60,000 annually, immediately following high school graduation and training.

Critics of the change, however, cite statistics that younger drivers have higher crash rates overall. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 16 to 19 year olds are three times more likely to crash a vehicle than those over the age of 20. The fatality rate for males, specifically, was twice as high as that for females in the same age set.

Only 6 percent of licensed truck drivers nationally are women.

There are no specific studies on the rates of crashes involving licensed truck drivers under 21 currently involved in intrastate driving, however.

What do you think?

Is the federal rule prohibiting 18-year olds who are licensed from driving trucks across state lines arbitrary, or a necessary safety measure?

Tell us in the comments what you think, then use the Take Action button to tell your reps!

— Asha Sanaker

(Photo Credit: Justin Russell via Flickr / Creative Commons)

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