By now, everyone has heard of the labor shortages disrupting just about every industry in this country. Couple that with the supply chain issues, and you have Congress scrambling to come up with some solutions to help get things back on track. Once such a solution: allow younger truckers to go across state lines. The trucking industry is one in which many people are beginning to age out. Comprised of numerous 50 to 70-year-olds, the trucking industry is in danger of not having enough drivers to keep pace with demand. And with more and more drivers retiring, the situation could become very concerning over the next few years.
Very recently, Congress has been toying with the idea of letting those younger drivers, those between the ages of 18 and 20 cross state lines. Only those in the trucking business who were 21 and older could do so until this point. But given the current climate and the current state of the trucking industry, the government realized some changes needed to be made.
For many high school grads, the trucking industry is an attractive one, significantly if Congress does change the rules. Is the question, do these younger drivers have the mentality and money to make these kinds of journeys unattended?
The Benefits of Allowing High School Grads to Drive Truck
Beyond helping fulfill a need within an industry where most of the current drivers are nearing retirement age, allowing younger drivers to travel longer distances truly has some key benefits.
- It spurs excitement for the trucking industry among younger drivers. Recent high school grads aren’t necessarily going right into the trucking business with the current restrictions. And as many experts note, by the time they can drive from state to state, many have already found other jobs working in different industries. This could change all that.
- It helps deal with the current shortage of truckers. As with most industries in the US right now, trucking is experiencing a labor shortage. This would entice younger drivers to help fill those gaps.
- It also addresses some supply chain issues. While the supply chain problems certainly are not relegated to just the trucking industry, this could help. Getting more drivers on the road and thus having more resources to transport goods could alleviate certain aspects of the supply chain problem.
- Trucking as a business is certainly not as popular an endeavor as it once was. It reinvigorates an entire industry. Increased restrictions, issues on the road, and the overall “less glamourous” profile of trucking have led to a yearly decline in the number of new truckers. This could help reverse that trend and bring much-needed new people into the trucking industry.
Will the Pilot Program Work for the Trucking Industry?
This pilot program that allows 18 to 20-year-olds to operate commercial motor vehicles within the context of interstate commerce has many people quite hopeful. Numerous agencies are in favor of this program, including the American Trucking Association. There are some detractors, however. For example, those who advocate for highway safety are concerned that 18-year-olds simply aren’t prepared for the responsibility of trucking across state lines. Younger drivers tend to be more distracted, and they also tend to have higher crash rates. Couple this with a driver behind the wheel of a semi-truck and this could spell disaster. Currently, there are only 3000 participating in this program. What the outcome will be, remains to be seen.
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