As the global economy develops, the trucking industry has long suffered from a lack of drivers. In the US, the trucking industry has been clamoring for recruits to help keep up with growing demand from customers across the country. Over the past several years, some corners of the trucking industry have been pushing to drop the minimum age to 18, down from the current 21.
Interstate Trucking for 18-Year Olds on NPR
As a truck accident attorney, I have been following developments around this important safety topic for almost two years. Last week I was pleased to see that this major issue was suddenly receiving national press coverage.
A Road Safety Issue
The problem with allowing 18 and 19 year olds to drive 53-feet long, 80,000 pound trucks across the country is one of safety. The statistics surrounding accident rates for this age bracket are worryingly high. It seems to fly in the face of safety to put those young drivers in a situation where they will most likely cause death, great bodily harm and much damage.
As noted in the NPR story, Jackie Gillan, the president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, was very much against the proposed change to the federal rules:
“They want to allow 18-, 19- and 20-year-olds to drive big trucks. This is a terrible idea, and it will result in more crashes, more deaths and more injuries,” said Jackie Gillan. She added that 18-year-olds are more likely than older drivers to crash cars, motorcycles, trucks — vehicles of all kinds. As such, we should not allow them to be interstate truck drivers.
“Drivers between the ages of 18 to 20 have four to six times higher rates of fatal crashes,” she reported.
Look for New Ways to Recruit
The trucking industry plays an integral role in our economy. The driver shortage is a real problem that requires real solutions. However, reducing safety and cutting dangerous corners for economic gain are not viable answers. The trucking industry could further its efforts to recruit women. There are undoubtedly other avenues to consider before opening the roads of interstate trucking to such a statistically dangerous choice.
As a member of the Interstate Trucking Group of the American Association for Justice, I shall make sure that our representatives in Washington understand that this proposed change to the minimum age for interstate truck drivers is not a good one. The life and safety of so many road users is more valuable than any amount of goods delivered to market on time.