Age Restrictions-

  • Why would a law firm of commercial 18-wheeler accident attorneys have an interest in  proposal to reduce age restrictions for interstate truckers?
  • The ‘Just in Time” global supply chain model meets with a perfect storm of post-Covid failures. Lawmakers propose lowering the age restrictions for interstate truckers.
  • Currently, the minimum age requirement for truck drivers that cross state lines is 21 years of age.

Pilot Programs

  • The FMCSA is hosting a pilot program that will allow 18–20-year-old employer-backed candidates to cross state lines. But they must possess the military equivalent of a CDL.
  • There is bipartisan congressional support for an employer-apprenticeship program for 18-20 years old with a valid intrastate CDL.
  • The pilot curriculum includes two sessions of probationary training, totaling 400 hours. This includes 240 driving hours with an experienced driver over the age of 21.
  • When probationary training is successful, a rolling roster, up to 3000 drivers, may receive interstate DOT certification.

For and Against

  • The American Trucking Association approves of the legislative push to reduce  age restrictions for interstate truckers. 
  • The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association believes increasing the minimum age to 25 will make roads safer for everyone.
  • Statistically, the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) research data shows there is an overrepresentation of teens in fatal crashes.
  • The US Department of Transportation 2019 statistics show that the fatal crash rate for teens (ages 16-19) is nearly three times the rate for drivers 20 and over.
  • Many neurologists believe the brain continues to develop into the early or mid-20s.

The Future of Long-Haul Trucking

  • Trucking companies, desperate for fresh drivers, advertise positions that include a $15,000 signing bonus and a monthly bonus. But logistic experts claim empty container backlog, the availability of chassis, and product warehousing are the bigger problems in the American distribution chain.
  • There are additional concerns that autonomous trucks will soon displace an entire workforce of interstate and intrastate drivers.

Commercial 18-wheeler accident attorneys

Why would a law firm of commercial 18-wheeler accident attorneys have an interest in a proposal to reduce the age restrictions for interstate truckers? Our lawyers represent people with accidental injuries, and the families of deceased individuals—i.e. the victims of commercial and interstate trucking accidents.

It has been our experience as truck accident attorneys that the cause of a substantial number of commercial trucking accident claims are poor driver judgment or error. If that is indeed the case, as statistics show, experience must play a vital role in the licensing of a long-haul driver.

Congress reintroduces Drive Safe Act to lower age restrictions for interstate truckers

Since 2003, a bill that would lower current age restrictions for interstate truckers from 21 to 18 years of age has been introduced and re-introduced by members of Congress. In 2019 and again in 2020, the Drive Save Act resurfaces with bipartisan congressional support. And today, as America’s post-pandemic supply chain faces collapse, Washington searches for answers.

Strained Supply Chain

The 2021 supply chain meltdown consists of a breakdown in production, distribution, and inventory management of “just in time” supply chain model.

In fact, most journalists agree that there is no precedent for the magnitude of the current trade crisis. And logistical experts warn that goods and raw materials may not flow freely through the just-in-time chain until sometime in 2022—maybe.

The last time the supply chain was tested, more than 1,550 merchant ships were torpedoed during World War II. But these distribution failures did not result from weakened links in the global supply chain.

The “Just in Time” model

Large economies generally rely upon a just-in-time (JIT) supply chain model to move goods and supplies.  But how it operates is not difficult to understand.

Manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers receive shipments of raw goods, parts, supplies, and products when necessary. To make this model work, inventory managers maintain a tight working relationship with suppliers to see that deliveries arrive just in time.

This approach reduces warehousing costs. But knots in production and distribution adversely affect the methodology. Our commercial 18-wheeler accident attorneys believe flexibility improves on the model.

Post-pandemic supply chain shortcomings

Post-COVID supply chain issues have appeared in both the production and distribution sectors of world trade. The disruption can be attributed to a host of factors. These factors include off-line factories, reduced workforces, a lack of containers at the point of origin, too many empty containers at destination ports, port delays, inefficient processing, and shortages of raw materials, parts, and supplies.

Opposition to a reduction in age restrictions for interstate truckers

Associations for trucking companies claim that lowering age restrictions would erase the shortage of drivers. This, thereby, would improve distribution deficiencies.

Organizations representing independent owner-operators claim that compensation for over-the-road truckers is diminished, compared to a driver’s hours of engagement. Independents also assert that reducing age restrictions would not only worsen conditions for independents but endanger the public. Most self-employed drivers believe the appropriate age limit for truckers crossing state lines should be increased to 25 years of age.

Pilot test programs

While congress considers reducing age restrictions, an 18+ pilot program is underway for former military CDL holders.  However, interest in the program has been slim, so the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has also proposed a similar probationary test pilot program for non-military personnel from 18-21 with a valid CDL intrastate license.

The proposed project consists of two probationary sessions totaling 400 hours of instruction and hands-on under the guidance of a qualified, experienced CDL interstate driver. If the 18-year-old candidate successfully completes and skillfully passes all driving benchmarks, the employer may submit the candidate’s application to the Department of Transportation for a final ruling on DOT certification. This ruling is based primarily upon the safety record of the petitioner candidate.

A 19- or 20-year-old applicant could apply to the above-referenced pilot program or after 25,000 miles of intrastate driving experience, could submit their application directly to the Department of Transportation.

Conditions set for the pilot program

The FMCSA will assemble all candidate driving data from each of the pilot programs for the purpose of analyzing the safety records of 18-21 drivers. When sufficient data has been collected, the FMCSA and DOT will make recommendations contingent on the success of the pilot program outcome.

Restrictions on under twenty-one interstate CDL candidates

Certain restrictions in the pilot program prohibit:

  • Hazard materials
  • Special double and triple trailer configurations
  • Operation of truck without automatic or automated manual transition
  • Moving people

Equipment safety enhancements

Pilot program trucks come with the following safety features:

  • Automated emergency braking
  • Dashcams
  • Speed limiter of 65 mph on heavy-duty commercial trucks

Arguments against lowering age restrictions for interstate truckers

High percentage of teen accident fatalities. The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) research data shows a significant overrepresentation of teenagers in fatal crashes. The US Department of Transportation 2019 statistics show that the fatal crash rate for teens (ages 16-19) is nearly three times the rate for drivers 20 and over.

The leading causation factor for trucking accidents is human error. In the case of teens adopting a long-haul lifestyle where sound decision-making is contingent on real-world experience, the commercial 18-wheeler accident attorneys hold the same concerns as parents of recently licensed teens.   

Human error. It is widely known that most vehicular accidents are caused by human error. Human error is frequently the result of the failure to correctly recognize the situation or poor decision-making. In a 2005 joint Report to Congress[1], FMCSA and DOT claim that 87% of large truck crashes are caused by drivers. The commercial 18-wheeler accident attorneys must acknowledge that multiple factors often contribute to 18-wheeler accidents, including failure of truck components, shifting of loads, and so forth.

Insurance Availability. Most risk companies will not insure long-haul drivers unless they are at least 25 years of age. Though possibly not an insurmountable problem, the cost of a policy for an 18–20-year-old would likely be prohibitive in cost, either for an employer or for an independent operator.

Trucking Automation. The future of automated truck driving and hauling is rapidly approaching. And although the timeline of readiness for self-driving trucks is unclear, young people wanting to make a career in truck driving will lose jobs along with their older counterparts.

Commercial 18-Wheeler Accident Attorneys in Indianapolis

The commercial 18-wheeler accident attorneys at Ward & Ward Law Firm in Indianapolis have nearly a century of combined experience representing victims of large commercial trucking accidents. You should know that representing injury victims of a commercial interstate vehicle is very different from handling a local car accident or personal injury claim. The attorneys you hire must have a solid understanding of federal rules and restrictions regarding interstate commercial driving.

If you or someone you love has been seriously injured or passed away from injuries due to a trucking crash, contact the commercial 18-wheeler accident attorneys at Ward & Ward Law Firm. Call 317-639-9501 today and ask for attorney Charlie Ward!

[1] https://ai.fmcsa.dot.gov/downloadFile.axd?file=LTCCS%20reportcongress_11_05.pdf


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