Should the United States Lower the Truck Driver Age from 21 to 18?
In the United States, the current truck driver shortage is estimated at almost 50,000 drivers, with it expected to only get worse in the next five to ten years.
A lot of it has to do with the fact that the trucking industry is still seen as a common resource that relies solely on cost. Not to mention, the fact that the turnover rate for a full truckload fleet is almost 90%, many times due to:
- Licensing and Regulatory Hassle
- Financial Responsibility
- Road Congestion Problems
What does this mean for the average person?
Actually, the truck driver shortage is a grave matter for Americans everywhere. As technology advances, we will continue to rely heavily on our devices to order what we want or need. However, this consumption practice is almost completely dependent on the trucking industry.
We need warehouses across the country ready to ship to consumers every day. That requires plenty of trucks and more importantly, truck drivers, around and available to fulfill the task.
Truckers accounted for almost 70.1% of domestic freight transportation in 2015. Again, as consumption increases, that number is only expected to jump higher in the next 10 years. That is where the shortage comes into play; meeting demand won’t work if the number of drivers continue to decrease.
So, what can the trucking industry do to help solve this problem?
Well, one idea was directly pointed at the the age minimum for truck drivers.
Right now, the federally mandated minimum driver age for Class A CDL drivers is 21 years old. There are a variety of reasons to explain why, but mostly because truck driving is dangerous and younger adults are known for being bad drivers.
According to the American Trucking Association, the transportation industry is missing out on potential drivers from when teenagers graduate from high school and directly move into a profession or trade school.
Plus, an 18 year old can be granted a commercial driver's’ license, which is needed to drive a truck. Yet, they actually have to be 21 years old and over in order to be able to haul freight across state lines.
In terms of this solution, lowering the minimum age for truck drivers almost seems like a logical step to follow through with.
While many trucking fleets have raised pay and other benefits the past few years to recruit new drivers, that just isn’t making the cut alone. Combine that with the fact that, the average trucker is almost 50 years old, with an impending date of retirement.
By getting more younger people into trucking, the industry might actually get closer to meeting demand for freight transportation.
All of this information led to a transportation bill being introduced in 2015, that would have lowered the minimum age to 18 years old. It was intended to lower the minimum age requirement, but also create special restrictions unique to those younger adults.
However, the same bill ended up being rejected later that year. Many government officials against the bill said that the danger levels were not worth the risk of young people dying. Supporters, on the the other hand, just want young drivers to be able to cross state lines, which they are still prohibited from doing.
While more research is needed by the Department of Transportation, this leads to the question of:
What can the trucking industry do to combat the truck driver shortage, will the ELD help? Should the minimum age for truck drivers be lowered to 18 years old?