'I really can't think of a worse response to the myth of the driver solution [shortage] than to reduce the driver age or reduce the already low standards to get a commercial driver's licence,' said Todd Spencer, the president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA).
Currently, drivers ages 18 to 21 may only operate in intrastate commerce, notes American Shipper.
Highway and Auto Safety president Cathy Chase and Teamsters safety chief Lamont Byrd said drivers under 21 are four to six times more likely to be involved in a fatal truck crash.
Said House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore): 'If you want to attract and retain quality drivers, you need policies that ensure trucking remains a good job with adequate compensation.'
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), under some pressure to deregulated, announced earlier this month it is accepting applications for a pilot programme to permit 18- to 20-year-olds who possess the US military equivalent of a commercial driver's licence to operate large trucks in interstate commerce.
To many this is not enough because by the time they are free of military service they will be very nearly 21. So the FMCSA is mulling another pilot programme for 18-year-olds without the military experience.
But applicants, as it is currently drafted, would be required to complete at least 400 hours of on-duty time and 240 hours of driving time with experienced drivers, and all trucks used for training must be equipped with active braking collision mitigating systems, forward-facing video event capture and a speed governor.