Infrastructure bills would put teenage truck drivers on U.S. roads


Infrastructure bills would put teenage truck drivers on U.S. roads

Committing to the trillion-dollar infrastructure bill that U.S. President Joe Biden signed into law today (November 15) is a big win for the long-term trucking industry: vocational training to allow the U.S. companies to hire drivers at 18 years old.

The industry won. The law requires Transportation Minister Pete Buttigieg to create a vocational training program for young drivers by January 14, 2022. This program can certify up to 25,000 drivers between the ages of 18 and 20 as long-term truck drivers annually until it ends in 2024. Truck drivers will be required to Trainees drive will be for 240 hours.

 After that, they are free to drive any route through the states in the country.

Buttigieg sought to allay collapse fears at a November 8 press conference highlighting the program. 

Research generally supports this argument. In 2019, the Congressional Research Service, a nonpartisan think tank researching policy recommendations for U.S. lawmakers, examined proposals to lower the minimum age to drive trucks to 18. "Studies consistently show that young commercial drivers, like young drivers in general, are many more at risk. 

Their findings are consistent with other meta-analyses of driver safety studies, which have found a U-shaped association between age and crash risk: the younger you are, the more likely you are to crash — until you are around 65 and the more likely you are to hit. The crash rate starts to increase as you get older.

The United States began studying the relative risk of allowing 18-year-olds to drive trucks long distances last year in a military pilot program that put young soldiers behind the wheel to collect data on how often they crashed. But an army study won't offer much guidance. So far, no information about the results has been disclosed. The program is set to run until 2023 and publish a report in 2024. By that time, the newly approved commercial driver apprenticeship program will already be over.

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