At the end of February, bills were introduced to both the House and Senate to help alleviate the current shortage of truck drivers. The legislation is being hailed by both sides of the aisle as positive deregulation that will open up the job market in the trucking industry.
And Overview of the DRIVE Safe Act
The DRIVE Safe Act – or the Developing Responsible Individuals for a Vibrant Economy Act – is designed to allow young people seeking professional careers in the trucking industry to drive across state lines to haul goods. This would greatly expand the talent pool for carriers to hire drivers, thus filling vacancies and closing the gap on the current driver shortage. While lawmakers from both parties support the DRIVE Safe Act, there is still some resistance and push back from certain groups.
Resistance to Change
One of the biggest arguments against the DRIVE Safe Act is that opening up interstate trucking to younger age groups would decrease overall safety on major roads. This is based on a longtime stereotype that 18-21 year olds are irresponsible with vehicles of any type. What they wither dismiss or don’t realize is that the DRIVE Safe Act is not just handing major responsibilities over to anyone with a commercial drivers license. Young drivers who complete a CDL course are then trained in a two-stage programs that exceeds current driver and safety standards. Young people would have to complete at least 400 hours of on-duty time, as well as 240 hours of driving time with an experienced truck driver in the cab. All vehicles used in training would be equipped with NTSB-endorsed safety equipment, forward-facing video capture, and a max speed governor set at 65 mph. These young truckers will be more prepared to sit behind the wheel of a large vehicle than most private drivers are with their own cars.
Overcoming Trucking Challenges
Given what the trucking industry went through last year with increased pressure and demands from shippers along with a driver shortage, the DRIVE Safe Act could be a huge win. Opening up jobs in the trucking industry to a new wave of young drivers, while many career truckers are contemplating retirement, is a solution that does not restrict carriers. This form of deregulation also does not place an undue burden on other industries or special groups, and actually gives everyone more freedom.
If accepted, the DRIVE Safe Act will go into effect in February of 2020.