Recently, a portion of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation ACT (FAST) was recently activated to put more teen truckers on the road. The WHEEL Act, introduced in September of 2017, also contains a pilot program to help recruit young truckers in the 18-21 veterans demographic. Both acts are designed to put more teen truckers on the road to reduce the driver shortage in the trucking industry.
The Issues with Teen Truckers
The arguments against letting teen truckers on the road have been hotly debated for years. As things stand, teen truckers cannot cross state lines. The younger demographic is anecdotally dismissed as being “less mature” than older drivers, and unable to handle the responsibility of a large vehicle with the pressures of long hauls. The opponents to this line of thinking assert that many in that demographic are veterans who are more than capable of handling big responsibilities. If people are considered old enough to serve in our armed forces, why should they be restricted from driving trucks?
Pay Rates & Teen Truckers
Another point frequently brought up by those in favor of placing restrictions on teen truckers is the rate of pay. Removing interstate restrictions gives the trucking industry to make a push to recruit younger drivers for lower pay. The people on the other side of this argument state that the drive for lower pay for teen truckers doesn’t carry any water. New drivers, regardless of age, are going to be paid less than those with a few years in the trucking industry. With many drivers nearing retirement, teen truckers could get a jump start on a career and have very good salaries by the time they hit their early or mid-twenties.
Holding Out for New Technology Isn’t the Answer
Some trucking companies are waiting for the automated revolution of self-driving trucks. That statement may seem humorous and still seems like the far-flung future, but the reality is right around the corner. Yet even with self-driving trucks rolling out in two years, the driver shortage is something that needs to be fixed now. The demands for capacity trucks can be eased if restrictions on younger truckers were reduced. If the trucking industry can recruit from the 18-21 age group and train them to take shipments between states, they may just be able to provide the coverage needed during this economic upswing.