Bill Could Be First Step to Younger Truck Drivers

July 10, 2015

By David Cullen

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Bill would let states jointly study lowering the CDL age requirement for interstate truckers. Photo: Haldex
Bill would let states jointly study lowering the CDL age requirement for interstate truckers. Photo: Haldex

A Senate bill would instruct the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to conduct a pilot study of lowering the age at which Class A CDL holders can drive trucks across state lines.

The Commercial Driver Act (S.1672), introduced by Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE) and co-sponsored by Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT), would allow contiguous states to enter into compacts to standardize the licensing requirements for drivers— including those under age 21-- to operate commercial motor vehicles in interstate commerce.

Not mentioned in the Commercial Driver Act is the concept of graduated CDL licensing, which calls for allowing 18- to 20-year olds to work as apprentice drivers to gain on-the-road experience leading to becoming fully licensed at age 21. Presumably, states that would take part in any standardization pilots enabled by the legislation might consider studying the apprenticeship model.

The American Trucking Associations favors that approach to help draw in younger recruits for driving jobs. According to Dave Osiecki, ATA executive vice president and chief of national advocacy, age-graduated licenses are “not a new concept for passenger car drivers” and that it’s “important to conduct research on this to attract people to this industry.”

Per the text of Sen. Fischer’s bill, “…participating States shall provide for minimum licensure standards acceptable for interstate travel under this section, which may include, for drivers under the 21 years of age— (1) age restrictions; (2) distance from origin (measured in air miles); (3) reporting requirements; or (4) additional hours of service restrictions.”

The language of S.1672 also states that the act would not change “the authority to operate in Interstate Commerce for drivers over the age of 21, including by setting the minimum age requirement to receive a Class A commercial driver’s license at 18 years of age.”

ATA said it supports the Commercial Driver Act because it helps address the growing shortage of commercial truck drivers. ATA estimates that while trucking is currently short up to 40,000, drivers, due to retirements and individuals leaving the industry, truck operations will need to recruit nearly 100,000 new drivers a year over the next decade to keep pace with freight demand.

"As our population grows and our freight demands increase, we are going to need more drivers,” said Bill graves, ATA president & CEO. “The Commercial Driver Act helps solve two problems by expanding the pool of eligible drivers and creating employment opportunities for younger Americans."

Making a common-sense argument in favor of lowering the interstate driving age, Graves also remarked that, “It is illogical that a 20-year-old can drive the 500 miles from San Francisco to San Diego, but not the eight miles from Memphis, Tennessee to West Memphis, Arkansas – or simply cross the street in Texarkana. Even more illogical is that a 20-year-old may not drive a truck in any state if the cargo in it originated outside the state or will eventually leave the state by some other means."


  1. 1. Mike S. [ July 13, 2015 @ 06:27AM ]

    I was driving in state way back in 1970 on a leaners permint when I
    was 14. true it was family teaching me back then but, when the whole family does own a trucking company it was easy. most indipendent owner operators do teach their son's & daugters to drive a truck. by 18 they are well qualified to drive anyware.

  2. 2. Dennis [ July 14, 2015 @ 08:54PM ]

    Real simple here. Either we allow 18 year old to drive a truck anywhere any other cdl holder can or we raise the minimum age for going into the military. This is bullshit that they can die protecting our freedoms but they don't have the freedom to earn a living like the rest of us.

  3. 3. Tom U. [ July 24, 2015 @ 10:51AM ]

    Well, I think the military comparison is false. An 18 year old in the military is well commanded, or at least commanded. An 18 year old's in a truck is on their own, especially over the road. I dont think it is such a bad thing to have apprenticeships so they can get better training for less money than a for profit school.


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