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New Bill Would Lower Tractor-Trailer Driver Age to 18

By: Allan M. Siegel

At 18 a person can do a lot of things – vote, get married or join the military without parental permission, buy cigarettes or lottery tickets – but one thing they cannot do under federal law is drive a tractor-trailer across state lines. A new bill proposed in Congress seeks to change that. Under current law, a person must be 21 years old before they are allowed to drive a tractor-trailer in interstate commerce. Some states, such as Pennsylvania, already allow people over 18 but under 21 to drive tractor-trailers in state, but that right ends at the state border. The proposed change would allow drivers over 18, but not yet 21, to drive 100 miles into the next state. It would still restrict teen truck drivers from hauling hazardous materials or operating “special configurations” which are usually oversized or overweight loads.DC Tractor-Trailer Lawyer

This proposed change is a result of trucking industry claims that it is necessary to help address a truck driver shortage. The American Trucking Associations estimates that the shortage is 35,000-40,000 drivers but expects that number to grow as more individuals retire or leave the industry. Highway safety groups, however, currently oppose the change because of the increased risk more teen tractor-trailer drivers could pose on the road. In 2013, all drivers ages 18-20 had a fatal crash involvement rate 66% higher than drivers who were 21 years or older. The Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety believe allowing teens to operate tractor trailers and work as many as 82 hours per week, as permitted in the trucking industry, with the stress of traffic and needing to make timely deliveries, is a “catastrophe waiting to happen.”

Tractor-trailers can pose a danger even in the hands of an experienced driver, as a single mistake can have deadly consequences. Putting an inexperienced driver at the wheel will likely only add to the likelihood of a mistake as they will be less prepared to deal with potential challenges on the roadway. The attorneys at Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C., have helped countless victims recover just compensation from negligent tractor-trailer drivers and companies. If you or someone you love has been injured in a tractor-trailer accident, please give us a call today for a free consultation.