From high school-er to long hauler, should teenagers be placed behind the wheel of commercial trucks? As the trucking industry struggles to meet the demand for truckers the idea of teenage truck drivers rises. Trucking companies see the potential to fill trucks sitting in idle; safety groups stress the risk of having young drivers behind the wheel of commercial trucks.
Trucking companies throughout the nation are finding it difficult to recruit new drivers. A recent report shows trucking companies would need an additional 48,000 drivers to keep up with demand for freight transportation. Stating if age limits are lowered the opportunity for drivers would open.
Federal laws can grant anyone over the age of 18 a commercial license; however drivers need to be 21 to cross state lines. The demand for long haul drivers has increased and long haul positions are getting more and more difficult to fill. Being that Long haul trucking has a popular reputation for low pay and long hours on the road away from home, the recruitment process is having problems attracting new drivers. Trucking companies are hoping to open the opportunity for many potential long haul drivers by recruiting teenage truck drivers.
The average age of a long haul driver in the country is 50, an age bridging to retirement. Trucking companies feel that lowering the age limits will attract younger drivers and introduce them to the trucking industry. Trucking companies say many young candidates are steered in other directions as the wait for truck driving is an average of 3 years after high school.
Safety groups oppose the proposal of teenage truck drivers, stating younger drivers put our motorist at risk. “18, 19, and 20 year old drivers; whether behind the wheel of a car or truck are high risk drivers” said Jackie Gillan, president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety. Groups claim lowering age limits will make the public a Guinea pig in a very dangerous experiment. Advocates propose the idea for trucking companies to create plans to increase pay for current drivers and make long haul schedules more family friendly and avoid teenage truck drivers. As of now trucking companies are sent back to the drawing boards until further changes.