WASHINGTON — The Tire Industry Association (TIA) is supporting the Developing Responsible Individuals for a Vibrant Economy (DRIVE-Safe) Act, a bill that would create an apprentice program for commercial drivers under 21.
The DRIVE-Safe Act would address a severe shortfall in truck drivers in the U.S., TIA said in the Feb. 9 issue of its Weekly Legislative Update. That shortfall amounted to nearly 61,000 drivers in 2018, the association said, citing figures from the American Trucking Associations (ATA).
"According to the ATA, to meet the U.S. demand, the trucking industry must hire roughly 1.1 million new drivers," TIA said.
Yet, TIA added, there's a problem.
"A critical obstacle to attracting new drivers is that while virtually all states allow individuals to obtain a commercial driver's license at age 18, they are prohibited from operating in interstate commerce until they are 21," the association said.
"That means an 18-year-old cannot drive a truck from Arlington, Va., into Washington, D.C., yet could drive that same truck across Virginia from Arlington to Virginia Beach to Bristol," it said.
The DRIVE-Safe Act would allow an apprentice under 21 to drive a vehicle in interstate commerce during a 120-hour probationary period and after completing an apprenticeship program, the bill's language states.
The apprenticeship program would require young drivers to complete at least 400 hours of on-duty time and 240 hours of driving time with experienced drivers ages 21 or older in the cab with them, TIA said.
The DRIVE-Safe Act was introduced into the House and Senate in late February 2019. In the House, it was introduced as H.R. 1374 by Rep. Trey Hollingsworth, R-Ind., and in the Senate as S.569 by Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind.