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Should the Driving Age Be Lowered for Truck Drivers?

Truck Accidents

Blue big rig semi truck tractor with black grille transporting cargo in refrigerator semi trailer with reefer unit on the front wall running on the green forest highway road in Columbia Gorge

With a shortage of drivers in the trucking industry, most states have lowered the age requirement for a commercial driver’s license (CDL) from 21 to 18. Some states even allow 16-year-olds to obtain a CDL. However, these state limits only apply to commercial trucking within state boundaries. 

To operate many types of commercial motor vehicles in interstate commerce, drivers must be at least 21-years-old to meet federal guidelines. Some in the industry are lobbying for the federal age restriction to be lowered to 18. Experienced Fort Walton Beach truck accident attorneys review the arguments for and against this change. 

Concerns About Younger Truck Drivers

Surveys of professional drivers reveal considerable concerns about allowing younger drivers to operate big rigs in regular interstate traffic. They are often worried not only about the lack of driving experience but also the lack of life experience and judgment. For the same reasons that many car rental companies refuse to rent to drivers in their early 20s, many full-time drivers would rather share the roads with more mature drivers. The younger drivers are perceived as seeing the challenges of driving as a video game. On the highway, however, there is no reset button. Fort Walton Beach truck accident attorneys know that errors in judgment can lead to serious injuries or death.  

Many cite statistics showing that commercial drivers under the age of 20 are much more likely to be involved in fatal collisions. They also report problems with drivers in the 21-23-year-old range who lack judgment skills. Professional drivers are worried that trucking companies are too concerned with profits to invest the time to train younger drivers appropriately. 

Arguments in Favor of Lowering the Age Requirement for Truckers

With trucking needs anticipated to increase, some people suggest that it is necessary to lower the commercial driving age to 18 to entice new high school graduates into the career field. However, by the time they have reached age 21, many of the best potential professional drivers have trained for careers in other industries and are not likely to make such a significant switch. 

People who favor lowering the driving age also suggest that required training, testing, and probationary periods could help ensure that young drivers can safely handle tractor-trailers in interstate commerce. In addition, adding drivers to the available pool could reduce the pressure to overwork current drivers and lead to less fatigue. Fort Walton Beach truck accident lawyers often see cases where exhausted drivers fall asleep at the wheel or fail to react in time to prevent a crash. 

Military Drivers

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is currently in the middle of the pilot program to evaluate the safety and feasibility of allowing military drivers between the age of 18-20 to operate commercial motor vehicles in interstate commerce. They will compare the records of these drivers with comparable drivers in the 21-24 age group to ascertain the effect of age on driving safety. 

Drivers participating in the pilot program must have received training in driving heavy vehicles and have a designated military occupational specialty code. While data from this pilot program may help settle the age issue in some people’s minds, others will be concerned that the effect of military training has such a significant impact that similar results cannot be expected for younger drivers without that training. 

Our Fort Walton Beach Truck Accident Lawyers Investigate Crashes to Determine Who May Be Responsible  

Regardless of the age of a truck driver, if a trucking company fails to provide proper training and supervision, that company could be liable when a driver causes a crash. If you or a loved one suffered injuries in a truck collision, knowledgeable Fort Walton Beach truck accident lawyers could investigate to determine who may be required to pay compensation for your losses, including pain and suffering. For a free consultation to learn more, contact us today.

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