Hoping to help ease the nationwide driver shortage, U.S. legislators have proposed the DRIVE-Safe Act (Developing Responsible Individuals for a Vibrant Economy). It would pave the way for 18 to 20 year olds to enter the profession.

Currently, drivers younger than 21 can get a CDL license but can’t drive a commercial vehicle across state lines. Proponents of the DRIVE-Safe Act say young people who don’t go to college at 18 often find another career before age 21. They say it explains, at least in part, why only 5 percent of the truck driver workforce is younger than 24, the average age of a new driver is nearly 30, and the overall average age for truck drivers is 55.

Under the DRIVE-Safe Act, once an 18-to-20-year-old earns their CDL, they can enter an apprenticeship program that will allow them to do interstate driving with some restrictions. It will train these young drivers far above current standards for older drivers.

The program would require the young drivers to complete at least 400 hours of on-duty time, with at 240 hours of supervised driving time. They would need to achieve a long list of performance benchmarks (like lane control, turning, maneuvering and fueling) to graduate from the program.

Trucks used for training would have to be equipped with safety technology, including active braking collision mitigation systems, video event capture and a speed governor set at 65 miles per hour or below. 

The DRIVE-Safe Act was introduced in the House last March and in the Senate last August, but didn’t make it a vote in 2018. It was re-introduced to the senate in February. If it passes Congress, the President must also sign off to make it law.


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