January 20, 2020

Can One Piece Of Legislation Ease The U.S. Truck Driver Shortage?

Metals Service Center Institute members are heavily dependent on trucks and highways to move their products throughout the country, and the shortage of truck drivers in the United States have made operations more difficult and has impeded economic stability. According to the American Trucking Association, the United States had a shortfall of 50,000 drivers in 2017 and the deficit could more than triple within the next six years.

In a new issue brief, the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors (NAW) says a bill that has been introduced in Congress could help.

As NAW explains, 48 states currently permit the issuing of commercial drivers’ licenses (CDL)  to 18 year-old drivers for intra-state commerce. Current federal regulations, however, require drivers in interstate commerce to be at least 21 years of age. This means a 20-year old driver in El Paso can drive across the entire state of Texas, but can’t make the 30 mile trip into New Mexico.

H.R. 1374/S. 569, the Developing Responsible Individuals for a Vibrant Economy Act (DRIVE-Safe Act) would allow employers to provide CDL holders below the age of 21 with an extensive apprenticeship program that will prepare them to be able to drive in interstate commerce. The program consists of two sequential probationary periods where the apprentice is accompanied by an experienced driver, in which an apprentice must, in total, complete at least 400 hours of on-duty time with at least 240 hours driving. Additionally, both periods can only be completed after certain performance benchmarks are adequately achieved by apprentices to the satisfaction of the employer.

Stay tuned to Connecting the Dots for more information on this legislation.