A while back, we reported on a movement to allow teenage drivers into the trucking industry. The concept has sparked very heated discussions among lawmakers throughout the United States, with both the FMCSA and ATA proposing plans that would offset some of the more negative notions surrounding the idea of teenage drivers.
The Pros of Teenage Drivers
By allowing teenage drivers to haul shipments across state lines, the trucking industry would gain a number of benefits. First, younger drivers would help to close the existing driver gap, and help replenish the workforce as more truckers enter retirement. Second, as the economy continues to grow and demands are made by shippers, manufacturers, construction, and infrastructure, having teenage drivers on board would make supply lines run smoother and help to avoid any strain or crunch like the industry experienced over the past few years. Third, teenage drivers are big on connectivity, and are more likely to embrace and adapt to new technology as it is implemented. In an industry that is evolving and growing fast than ever before, bringing in younger drivers could be the key component trucking has needed all along.
Despite the many potential benefits, lawmakers, skeptics, and others have presented reasons why teenage drivers would not be a good idea. The major concern is that young people are not ready for the responsibility of navigating large vehicles over long distances filled with valuable goods. Right behind age and experience is the concern over risk and cost, specifically with the insurance policies trucking companies would have to pay on younger drivers. Younger drivers, statistically, get into more accidents and if highway safety is a main focus of the trucking industry, the age should not be lowered.
Where Things Stand Now
Right now, certain states allow teenage drivers to make hauls within a certain radius, and always within state lines. There are also pilot programs on the table to train and hire teenage drivers with military training and experience with heavy vehicles. These may open the doors and force lawmakers and organizations like OOIDA to rethink policies on younger drivers and keep the trucking industry moving forward.