Photo: Neil Abt/Fleet Owner

Will Congress allow 18 year olds to drive interstate trucks again?

Feb. 28, 2018
Trucking officials said Congress could consider a bill to allow younger drivers get involved sooner in interstate commerce.

SAN DIEGO. The head of the International Foodservice Distributors Association (IFDA) said another effort is underway that could create a pathway for some younger drivers to get involved in interstate commerce.

Mark S. Allen, president and CEO of IFDA, said he is hopeful legislation will be introduced in Congress that could make it possible for select drivers under the age of 21 to obtain a commercial driver's license and “be able to drive interstate commerce with some restrictions.”

Speaking Feb. 27 at the Lytx user group conference, Allen said examples of those restrictions could include requiring an experienced driver to be in the passenger seat, and restricting the total hours younger drivers can work.

Allen stressed these truckers would also only be using vehicles that feature many of the most modern safety technologies on the market today, including in-cab cameras. For top performers that can meet high benchmarks, “we can get them out of school and into our profession before they hit the trades,” he said.

Allen noted that 48 of 50 states allow people between 18-21 to obtain a CDL but cannot drive interstate.

Randy Guillot, president of Triple G Express and Southeastern Motor Freight, said a program allowing younger drivers to get involved in interstate commerce would assist the trucking industry more easily attract high school students. This has been difficult because of the gap between graduation and these students turning 21, said Guillot, who is second vice chairman of American Trucking Associations (ATA).

In 2015, a federal effort that would allow states to develop graduated licensing programs failed to gain congressional approval.

Dave Michelson, former CEO of National Interstate Insurance, said he is a proponent that companies that have the correct culture, training, and technology can bring along “fresh, younger drivers and teach them the business the right way with right safety tools.”

About the Author

Neil Abt

Neil Abt, editorial director at Fleet Owner, is a veteran journalist with over 20 years of reporting experience, including 15 years spent covering the trucking industry. A graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., he began his career covering sports for The Washington Post newspaper, followed by a position in the newsroom of America Online (AOL) and then both reporting and leadership roles at Transport Topics. Abt is based out of Portland, Oregon.

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