President Joe Biden signed legislation centering on infrastructure and doing so made some intriguing changes to federal long-haul trucking regulations. A new program lowers the age to be a trucker from 21 to 18, a move intended to help young persons seek gainful employment while alleviating some supply chain concerns. While many appreciate the change, others feel concerned about increased truck accidents.
Changes to the age requirements
The legislation does not open doors for everyone under the age of 21 to become a long-haul trucker. The new law does establish a three-year pilot program that allows regulators to review the success or lack thereof before making any permanent changes. The addition of younger truck drivers could help address the shortage of 80,000 drivers, a situation contributing to supply chain problems.
Not everyone feels enthusiastic about the program. Teen drivers tend to get into more accidents than older persons, and a tractor-trailer could inflict far more damage than a standard car.
Teen drivers and liabilities
Younger drivers may be riskier than older ones, as they may lack the experience to realize how dangerous speeding and other moving violations are. Teen drivers could cause commercial truck accidents due to distracted driving. The problem often occurs when drivers worry more about infotainment systems or text messaging than looking at the road.
That said, commercial truck drivers must go through extensive training to learn how to operate a tractor-trailer. Hopefully, the young persons in the pilot program will become safer drivers from the training. Negligent truck drivers of any age may face a civil suit if their negligence causes an accident. Again, with truck collisions, the injuries and damage could be severe.