In an April 14 letter addressed to members of Congress, the DRIVE-Safe Act Coalition — along with 117 companies and organizations in the trucking industry — have expressed strong support of a new bill that proposes allowing certified commercial truck driver’s under the age of 21 to cross states lines.
Although 49 states and the District of Columbia currently allow individuals under the age of 21 to obtain a commercial driver’s license and operate in intrastate commerce, these same individuals are prohibited from driving a truck across state lines until they turn 21. The proposed Developing Responsible Individuals for a Vibrant Economy (DRIVE-Safe) Act would change that through implementing a two-step program of additional training, which includes "rigorous performance benchmarks."
In the letter, the coalition urged members of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation and the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure to include the act in the forthcoming infrastructure legislative package and/or surface transportation reauthorization bill.
“This strongly bipartisan legislation, which garnered the support of more than one third of the House and Senate in the 116th Congress, will address the nation’s growing truck driver shortage by promoting opportunity and enhanced safety training for emerging members of the transportation workforce,” the coalition wrote.
According to a recent estimates listed by the coalition, the trucking industry needs an additional 60,800 truck drivers immediately—a deficit that is expected to grow to more than 160,000 by 2028. When anticipated driver retirement numbers are combined with the expected growth in capacity, the trucking industry will need to hire roughly 1.1 million new drivers over the next decade, or an average of nearly 110,000 per year, the coalition wrote.
“The COVID-19 pandemic further exacerbated the truck driver shortage, and the temporary closures of state DMV’s and truck driver training schools dried up the already fragile pipeline of new drivers entering the trucking industry,” according to the letter. “And as a result of the already crippling driver shortage, companies in supply chains across the economy are facing higher transportation costs, leading to increased prices for consumers on everything from electronics to food.”
The letter was signed by 117 organizations and companies in trucking, transportation, industry and related groups, including the Amerian Trucking Associations, Commerical Vechile Training Association, Fedex, Home Depot, Nestle, Truckload Carriers Association, UPS, Walmart, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. See the full list here.