The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration closed comments on Nov. 9, 2020, in its quest for opinions as to whether people between the ages of 18 and 20 should be allowed to drive semis across state lines. Most states, including Louisiana, currently let these individuals earn their commercial driver’s license and operate solely within their respective geographical boundaries.
Teen semi-driver program requirements
The program would have particular requirements, including the creation of two mandatory probationary periods. The first 120-hour period would ensure that the teen knew how to operate the semi safely. The second probationary period would last for 260 hours to ensure that the teen followed techniques they learned during the first period. Specially equipped trucks with recording devices and speed limiters would be placed on the trucks throughout the probationary periods.
Military semi-driver program
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is also trying to expand its military-to-civilian driving program. This program allows veterans or reservists to drive interstate trucks. The administration wants to increase this program’s size by also allowing nine additional military categories to join it.
Are there in fact driver shortages?
According to a report released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the perceived driver shortage that the program purposes to stop does not exist. Instead, the report says that low pay and working conditions cause the deficit. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association that represents independent truck drivers supports this finding. They say that there would be no shortage if the industry paid drivers well, and they do not want to see young adults taken advantage of by large fleet carriers. They maintain that until drivers receive more pay, highway safety will continue to be impacted by commercial truck accidents caused by inexperienced drivers, and other road users will be put at risk of serious injuries or death.