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

by Countable | Updated on 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)

Countable

Written by Countable

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(73)
  • RadicalModerate
    03/27/2018
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    We need to address the trucker shortage by providing better pay and working conditions for our nations professional drivers.

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  • ZacZamora
    03/27/2018
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    They’re legally adults. As long as they can pass all the required testing, they have a right to work - and the industry has a right to select and fill the much needed positions with capable and legal workers.

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  • Mark
    03/27/2018
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    If your old enough to go to war you can drive,fly whatever you want vote etc

    Like (27)
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  • Tyson
    03/28/2018
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    As a journalist for the trucking industry, I assure you this is a bad idea. Lawmakers are passing regulation after regulation regarding commercial vehicle safety, including regulations with no proven efficacy. With that said, we need more training for drivers. We need to be sure that drivers of 80,000-pound vehicles are well-equipped to handle these trucks, mentally and physically. The “driver shortage” is due to high turnover rates which are due to bad wages, NOT because there are not enough drivers. There are plenty, but large carriers will not compensate them fairly. Increase pay, do not decrease age limit. Problem solved.

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  • Josh
    03/28/2018
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    To provide another point of view: These guys also travel distance that maybe requires a few more years of experience for safety reasons. You cannot substitute time & experience.

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  • Jennifer
    03/28/2018
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    I’d much prefer they were long -haul truckers with a good paying job than wasting their time in a university getting indoctrinated with Marxist, Uber-Liberal, Progressive crap, then demanding we change the Constitution, give up the Bill of Rights, AND pony up for free college for the socialist ideas and other crap with which they were just indoctrinated. I say, if a Navy Seabee can learn to drive heavy equipment right out of boot camp, then they’d be just as fit for truck driving.

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  • Gerald
    03/28/2018
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    The fact that the accident rate for drivers under 21 is 3 times greater does concern me. Nothing funny about an 18 wheeler losing control and smashing a family filled SUV it was passing. Perhaps best to leave it alone and let the 18 to 20 year olds gain experience driving first on short hauls within a state before going long haul cross country. I get the argument that an 18 year old may drive tanks in combat, but they don’t start out there trust me. Not convinced it won’t increase danger on highways and all the other issues don’t matter when compared.

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  • Claude
    03/28/2018
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    Interesting, 18 year olds, can vote, can serve in military, can drive, can get married, can buy a long gun in many states, can work in factory or on a farm but the cannot drive a truck across a state line. This does not make a lot of sense. Age is not the determine factor, maturity is the determining factor. Trump acts like a 15 year old bully, yet he is the president. We should focus on qualifications and mental stability not age

    Like (4)
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  • RyanSpencer
    03/28/2018
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    I don't care if you're uncomfortable with it, deal with it! These are jobs these legal adults are willing to take, as long as the training is completed (just like every other job) then why would you need to discriminate against 18-20 year old adults?

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  • James
    03/28/2018
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    I probably was mature enough to drive 18 wheels at age 18 but that was 1975! Are most of today’s 18 year olds mature enough? A lot of those boys were also country bouts that grew up operating heavy equipment on the farm! I grew up in the city but was raised with a lot of responsibility and that’s why I say I probably could have!

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  • Mike
    03/27/2018
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    Nay. Not enough of 18 year olds are mature enough to drive big rigs on public roads. It could pose a life or death threat to many other drivers on the road.

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  • James
    03/28/2018
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    I’m not comfortable with 18-year-olds driving 18 wheeler‘s after only two years of driving experience. I hope you can keep that in mind when you vote on this. Thank you.

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  • Jim2423
    03/28/2018
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    I really don’t understand why the big deal on age. At 18 you HAVE to sign up for the draft. In the military men and women learn to drive major large vehicles. A person still has to under go the CDL driving test and it is not easy. Most people take a driving class. Eighteen is a responsible age, some enter into college with a major life long loan. So why not allow eighteen year old learn a trade. Not to worry most companies just don’t allow you to jump in a truck and drive off. You will go with another driver until they are satisfied you are capable to handle the job. Insurance is expensive and companies are aware of that. Not everyone needs to go to college but everyone needs an occupation.

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  • KansasTamale
    03/28/2018
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    Many 18 year olds aren’t mentally mature enough to drive a machine this big and dangerous. Imagine an immature kid driving a truck full of propane. A mental stability test should become part of the testing & classes drivers have to pass.

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  • Caren
    03/28/2018
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    I would say yes to an 18 year old driving 18 wheelers IF the individual is deemed mature enough and has been properly trained. It is important to determine proper cognition and physical coordination and ability. This would be true of 25 to 30 year olds as well. I know 18 years of age seems young but technically they are adults. It seems a popular belief is to allow teenagers to remain carefree. While that is a respectable thought; it is more or equally important that teenagers are learning skills to become responsible and mature adults. Being an adult doesn’t start at 30.

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  • Richard
    03/28/2018
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    I don’t see any harm in letting them drive across state lines as long as they are cleared by employers.

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  • Andrew
    03/29/2018
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    Having been in the industry since 1997 I don't see a problem with allowing 18 year olds to drive interstate along as the proposed safety & training standards are met. We have 18 year old EMT's & firemen, 18 year olds driving all over TX and working the oil fields. 18 year olds can drive interstate. Unless 30 something's want to begin driving truck we need to do something to attract people before there is a true driver shortage.

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  • Erik
    03/28/2018
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    If they can pass the test let them drive. Kids who do this should be offered retraining once these jobs are lost to automation however. Our lack of support for apprenticeship programs is going to leave us lagging behind in the long run.

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  • Mike
    03/28/2018
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    When I was kid I drove tractors and other things when I was 16 I was driving straight trucks just because someone one is young doesn’t mean they are not responsible people if they can pass the test let them nothing wrong with being a truck driver it puts food on the table

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  • Jim
    03/28/2018
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    18 year olds can serve and die for our country. All limits on anything that are 21 should be lowered to 18.

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