Teen truckers? Some hope new rule could ease driver shortage

On Balance with Leland Vittert

(NewsNation Now) — The supply chain crisis has been felt and documented. While there are myriad reasons for an out-of-whack supply and demand balance, one of the issues that’s gotten the most attention is a shortage of truck drivers. A somewhat unsung part of the bipartisan infrastructure bill aims to fix it.

The bill creates truck driver apprenticeships for people as young as 18. Presently, only adults 21 or older can drive a commercial truck across state lines, but some are calling for that to change, too.

“What we’re talking about is really arbitrary,” Fleet Force President Tra Williams said Wednesday on NewsNation’s “On Balance with Leland Vittert.”

Adults 18 and older can already get their Class A trucking license and drive intrastate, but not interstate.

“Someone could drive from Jacksonville to Orlando, but they can’t drive from Jacksonville to Savannah, which is the exact same distance,” Williams said.

Williams believes anyone who can vote for president or sign up for the military should be able to drive a truck between different states, but not everyone is convinced it’s the right thing to do.

“I don’t think at 18 they’re mentally prepared,” said Pamela Day, the owner of Trucking Trainer, Inc.

She highlighted concerns about safety, which she says are stressed in driving lessons. But Williams argued an older, “complacent” truck driver is more likely to get in an accident.

Williams is also skeptical insurance companies will work with trucking companies to bring younger drivers into the fold.

It’s too early to measure the real-world change this program will make, though Day says there are several 18-year-olds in her school already. She also said recruiting more female drivers would also help bring numbers up and ease the shortage.

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