May 30, 2023

Here’s How One U.S. House Bill Would Address Truck Driver Shortage

The U.S. trucking industry faces a shortage of more than 78,000 truck drivers and will need to hire 1.2 million new drivers over the next decade to meet increasing freight demands. As Congress considers this issue, it must explore efforts to expand the pool of qualified drivers while promoting appropriate safety standards and performance criteria.

That’s why, U.S. Reps. Rick Crawford (R-Ark.) and Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) have introduced legislation, the Drive Safe Integrity Act, which would provide safe avenues for 18- through 20-year-olds to begin careers in interstate trucking. Currently, these individuals are permitted in 49 states to use commercial trucking licenses, but are blocked by federal rules from participating in interstate commerce. Those rules mean a 20-year-old can drive a commercial truck from El Paso, Texas to Texarkana, Texas, a distance of 818 miles, but not from Texarkana, Texas to nearly Texarkana, Ark. since that trip would cross state lines.

A pilot program passed as part of the 2021 bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act has been bogged down by thorny rules from the U.S. Department of Transportation, which has meant a 3,000-person pilot program has seen fewer than a dozen enrollees thus far.

As such, the DRIVE Safe Integrity Act also:

  • Urges DOT to take action that would improve participation in its pilot program;
  • Requires DOT to provide Congress detailed reports on the status of the pilot program and its corrective actions taken to improve participation; and
  • Upon the sunset of the pilot program, directs DOT to promulgate regulations for a permanent apprenticeship program for commercial drivers between the ages of 18 and 20.

The DRIVE Safe Coalition, of which the Metals Service Center Institute is a member, has sent a letter to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure in support of this bill. Read the letter here.

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