truck driver walking toward truck

Are Trucking Companies Hiring Too Young?

It is no secret that the trucking industry is booming. In 2020, the industry generated over $732.3 billion in revenue and has only grown since then. With this growth comes an increased demand for drivers. This has led to many trucking companies looking to hire more drivers despite a nationwide shortage.

Shortage of Truck Drivers

The trucking industry in the United States is facing a driver shortage. The American Trucking Association (ATA) estimates that the industry is short by about 80,000 drivers. This shortage has been caused by several factors, including an aging workforce and a trucking industry that has been extraordinarily hampered by COVID-19, of which the effects can still be felt. According to the ATA, the shortage is expected to reach 160,000 by 2030.

One of the ways in which the trucking industry is fighting back against this shortage is by decreasing the minimum age of eligible truck drivers from 21 to 18 years old.

Truck Drivers Only Need to Be 18 Years Old

Due to the trucking shortage, states began lowering the minimum age for obtaining a CDL to 18 years old. This is a move that has been met with some controversy across the country. Many argue that 18-year-olds are not mature enough to handle the responsibility of driving a truck. Potential dangers of allowing young drivers to operate a truck include:

  • They may not have sufficient experience to drive such a large vehicle.
  • They may make impulsive decisions while driving.
  • They may take more risks while driving, such as speeding or driving recklessly.
  • They are more likely to engage in distracted driving behaviors.

While 18-year-olds are able to obtain their CDL, they are only allowed to drive intrastate, or within state lines. This, however, is also in the process of changing as the recently passed Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) introduced a test program for interstate travel.

Safe Driver Apprenticeship Pilot Program (SDAP)

Under the new Safe Driver Apprenticeship Pilot Program (a part of the DRIVE-Safe Act), young truck drivers 18 to 20 years old can drive across state lines as long as they have an experienced driver in the passenger seat 21 years old or older. The program requires the apprentice to undergo 400 hours of on-duty time and 240 hours behind the wheel.

Are They Doing Enough?

While the industry is making some changes to its training protocols and programs, it is still unclear if this is enough to make a difference. There are still too many accidents and fatalities caused by inexperienced drivers. In 2020, there were 4,842 trucks involved in fatal collisions.

The trucking industry needs to do more to ensure its drivers are properly trained before they get behind the wheel. Otherwise, these accidents will continue to happen.

If you were injured in a trucking accident in New Mexico, call McGinn, Montoya, Love & Curry, P.A. today at (505) 405-4441 to schedule a free initial consultation.

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