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New bill proposes interstate travel for truckers under 21

A hearing held in February 2020 by the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Transportation and Safety has explored the various concerns over a proposed bill called the DRIVE-Safe Act. This bipartisan bill, introduced in February 2019, proposes that interstate travel be opened even to those commercial truckers under the age of 21. Ohio, like most states, allows drivers as young as 18 to obtain a CDL but restricts them to intrastate travel.

The bill specifies that there would be a probationary period for these drivers before they begin interstate travel. They would have to complete 400 hours of driving, at least 240 of which must be with another truck driver 21 or older in the passenger seat.

One objection raised during the hearing was that truckers under 21 are inexperienced and should not be sent out of state where the routes are unfamiliar. A written testimony from the president of the Truck Safety Coalition stated that according to various studies, truckers under 21 have a much higher rate of crashes. Another objection was that lawmakers are accepting that there is a truck driver shortage when there isn't one.

Some professionals urged the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to study crash rates among younger truckers. Others said that investing in well-designed infrastructure can lead to better safety policies for truckers.

The proposal of a probationary period for young truckers can pose a legal problem for the victims of truck crashes caused by those truckers. After all, personal injury claims can be pursued against truckers when they are independent contractors or against a company when truckers are employees of that company. This is just one of many complications that victims might face when pursuing a case, so it may be wise to seek legal assistance. The lawyer will likely start with a case evaluation.

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