Florida residents should know that the commercial trucker they pass by on the freeway may be as young as 18 years old. In all states except Hawaii, though, 18- to 20-year-old CDL holders are limited to travel within the state. Now, a bill introduced in February 2019 is proposing to let truckers under 21 travel interstate after two probationary periods of 400 driving hours each. At least 240 of the hours would be accompanied by a trucker 21 or older.
The bill is called the DRIVE-Safe Act and has received the support of groups like the American Trucking Association. Others, such as the Owner-Operator Independent Driver Association and the Truck Safety Coalition, oppose it. The U.S. Subcommittee on Transportation and Safety held a hearing in February 2020 regarding this bill and other topics relating to the trucking industry, during which the opposing views were shared.
The OOIDA first of all objects to the bill because it is founded on a myth: namely, the fighting of a driver shortage. The Truck Safety Coalition’s president stated that truckers under 21 see a higher rate of crashes and that sending them out to unfamiliar states will not improve that rate. Some urged the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to more carefully analyze crash rates among these truckers before any decisions are made.
Of course, truckers can cause commercial vehicle accidents regardless of their age or level of experience. Such accidents can result in serious injuries for those in passenger vehicles, but under personal injury law, the victims may seek compensation as long as there is clear proof that the other side was guilty of negligence. They might leave it to a lawyer and his or her team of investigators to gather the evidence. The lawyer may also handle all negotiations.