According to the American Trucking Association, the current shortage of CDL truck drivers is expected to increase over 175,000 by 2026. The ATA points out the largest factor contributing to this shortage is the average age of for-hire drivers is 49. The trucking industry hopes to bridge the older driver demographics and lack of qualified applicants with a new law called, the DRIVE-Safe Act.
The DRIVE-Safe Act Targets Young CDL Drivers
By law, you have to be at least 18 to have a commercial driver’s license. Currently, in order to drive across state lines with a CDL, you have to be over 21. The DRIVE-Safe Act targets drivers between 18 and 20 who hold a CDL. As trade schools increase in popularity, the younger generation is steering away from attending traditional colleges to learn a skilled trade like truck driving.
The DRIVE-Safe Act Addresses the Truck Driver Shortage
The truck driving industry is changing. One of the biggest changes is job outlook as employers struggle to meet the demand for both quality and quantity of drivers. The ATA states the current trucking industry is short over 50,000 drivers. The DRIVE-Safe Act has the potential to decrease the shortage by attracting young talent. According to the ATA, nearly 90,000 drivers will need to be hired yearly over the next 10 years to meet the industry’s growth. To attract new drivers companies–like Walmart–are increasing salaries and easing the recruitment process.
The DRIVE-Safe Act Reduces Age Restrictions Across State Lines
Today, a 20-year-old truck driver can drive four hours to Denver, CO to Springfield, CO, but not the hour and a half drive to Cheyenne, WY. If passed in Congress, the law will lower the intrastate CDL restriction age to 18 nationwide. This will allow for young qualified drivers to fill the gap of empty driver seats. The DRIVE-Safe Act would require drivers under 21 to participate in a two-part apprentice program. The first part of the program consisting of 120 hours of probationary training and the second half 280 hours.
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