Americans skeptical of changes to ease truck-driver shortage


(NewsNation) — The trucking industry is in the midst of a major worker shortage. The American public, however, is overwhelmingly opposed to at least two possible solutions: lowering the driving age for truckers and using self-driving vehicles, according to a NewsNation/Decision Desk HQ poll released Wednesday.

Nearly 71 percent of registered voters polled by NewsNation opposed lowering the required age to get a commercial driver’s license from 18 to 16. Currently, drivers have to be 18 to transport goods within a state, or 21 to transport goods across state lines.

Meanwhile, 65 percent of Americans said they would feel at least somewhat unsafe with self-driving trucks on the road.

Truck drivers are responsible for delivering 70 percent of what Americans eat, drink and wear. But the job is facing major upheaval. The American Trucker Association estimated earlier this month that the nation was short about 80,000 truckers.

The job also has some of the highest turnover rates in the country. Plus, trucker salaries have fallen by more than 50 percent since the 1970s.

Self-driving trucks and a lower driving age for some routes are among the solutions for the industry. For example, a pilot program is underway to let drivers ages 18-21 transport goods across state lines.

When it comes to self-driving trucks, the NewsNation poll suggest opinions may change over time. Poll results show a disparity among age groups when weighing the deployment of self-driving trucks.

  • 53% of voters ages 18-34 said they would feel at least somewhat safe with self-driving trucks
  • 20% of voters 55 and older said they would feel safe

More than 1,000 registered voters were asked in the poll Sunday and Monday how they felt about the supply chain crisis and subsequent trucker shortage that has gone hand-in-hand with the crisis.  Most poll questions had a margin of error of about 3 percent.

Read the full poll here.

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