Federal lawmakers recently convened a hearing to learn more about a proposed bill that would allow commercial truck drivers under the age of 21 to operate on interstate routes through Florida and elsewhere. Right now, young commercial drivers are only allowed to operate on intrastate routes in 49 states.
The bipartisan bill, which was introduced by Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., and Jon Tester, D-Mont., in February 2019, is called the Developing Responsible Individuals for a Vibrant Economy Act, or the DRIVE-Safe Act. If passed, it would let commercial truck drivers between the ages of 18 and 21 enter a 400-hour apprenticeship program that includes probationary periods and a minimum of 240 hours of supervised commercial motor vehicle driving time. Drivers who complete this training would then be able to travel interstate routes across the U.S.
Groups such as the American Truckers Associations support the measure, claiming it would safely solve the nation’s commercial truck driver shortage. However, groups such as the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and the Truck Safety Coalition oppose the legislation, saying there is no driver shortage. Some opponents also say that teenage truck drivers are too inexperienced to safely drive interstate routes. They believe the intrastate safety records of teen drivers need to be carefully analyzed before the bill is passed.
A tractor-trailer crash could result in catastrophic injuries for those involved. Victims of truck accidents caused by negligent truckers might be owed compensation for a variety of damages, including medical bills, wages lost during recovery, mental anguish and property loss. A personal injury attorney may review a victim’s case and determine if a lawsuit is warranted. If so, legal counsel might be able to obtain a fair financial settlement on the victim’s behalf.