Federal proposal could see 18-year-olds driving big rigs

Federal lawmakers are proposing lowering the minimum age for interstate truckers, a move that critics say is dangerous.

Congress proposes lowering age requirement for interstate truckers

Some federal lawmakers have proposed lowering the age requirement for interstate truckers from 21 to 18 years of age, according to the Oregonian. The proposal is in response to a truck driver shortage, but critics say lowering the driving age would be dangerous and could potentially lead to an increase in truck accidents. They point out that a number of studies have shown that teenage drivers are more likely to be involved in a car accident and are also more likely to engage in risky driving behaviors.

Federal proposal

The proposal introduced in the U.S. Senate would allow states to join together in compacts to allow drivers as young as 18 to drive commercial trucks across their state lines. The proposal would not limit the number of states that could be a part of such compacts. Currently, federal law requires drivers to be at least 21 before they can drive commercial trucks interstate.

According to ABC5 News, the proposal is being championed by trucking industry associations who say there are currently too few people applying for trucking jobs. One study, for example, estimates that the industry is currently short by about 35,000 drivers. Proponents of lowering the driving age say that such a change will allow for more drivers to be recruited.

Safety concerns

Lowering the driving age for interstate truckers, however, is raising serious safety concerns. Critics point out the inherent danger of allowing young drivers who haven’t even had much experience driving a car to get behind the wheel of a big rig for long distances. The U.S. Department of Transportation, for example, says that 18-20-year-old drivers are 66 percent more likely to be involved in a fatal car accident compared to drivers who are over 20. Critics also say that younger drivers are more likely to suffer from inexperience and to be distracted while driving, particularly by smartphones.

Opponents of lowering the driving age also take issue with assertions that the change is needed in order to recruit more drivers. They say that a better way of getting more people to join the trucking industry would be by improving current working conditions and raising wages.

Representation for the injured

Although any motor vehicle accident has the potential to be serious, accidents involving large trucks are often particularly catastrophic. Accident victims should contact a personal injury attorney if they have been hurt in a crash. Establishing liability in such accidents, which an experienced attorney can help with, can be complex and could have a direct impact on how much compensation is available for victims recovering from their injuries.