by Sharlyn Petit
While most parents are busy gaining enough confidence to let their teens have their own set of car keys, Congress is moving to lower the age from 21 to 18 for driving commercial trucks across state lines.
A current shortage of truck drivers, enriched commerce, and an improved economy are all reasons trucking associations support the proposed change.
As the regulations stand now, teen truckers are already driving hundreds of miles within some states’ borders. If the new bill passed, contiguous states could agree to form “compacts” and allow interstate trips for truckers age 18 and older.
Today, Washington, Oregon, and Idaho observe age 18 as the threshold for obtaining a commercial driver’s license. Vision and medical exams, special endorsements, and tests for different vehicle classes also vary by state. With the new bill, it’s likely that more restrictions would be imposed on teens for hauling hazardous materials or oversized loads, passing additional interstate driving skills tests, or others.
No matter what the vehicle, statistics tell us time and time again that teen drivers still carry a load of inexperience, high-risk driving, and distracted behaviors in their first few years on the road, even up through age 20.
What’s your take? Is putting a teen at the wheel of a long-distance semi a catastrophe waiting to happen? Or, given the proper training and restrictions, does crossing a state line make no difference?
Read more about the proposed changes at seattlepi.com.
Read about commercial driver’s license requirements by state at besttruckingschools.com.