Should We Lower the Age for a CDL?
The current age for obtaining a Commercial Drivers License is 21 years old. Right now, the US is facing a shortage of truck drivers that is only expected to get worse. The American Trucking Association (ATA) believes that lowering the age for a CDL to 18 or 19 will help the trucking industry attract and hire more drivers.
ATA’s executive VP David Osiecki says that “the driver shortage is as bad as it’s ever been. We believe that lowering the age and offering a conditional CDL with oversight and monitoring will allow the industry to better address the driver shortage. Now, not every 18 or 19 year old is suited to drive a truck; we all get that. But we think this can be done in a responsible way.”
Of course, there are concerns about younger drivers and higher rates of accidents. Professor Kenneth Campbell of the University of Michigan wrote a paper back in 1991 that determined that younger drivers had a higher accident rate, possibly related to nighttime driving, inexperience, and lack of training. Requirements such as a night curfew and having an experienced driver as a passenger could be included as part of a graduated CDL licensing program. Also, with advancements in technology, it is easier than ever for trucking companies to monitor their drivers’ locations, speed, and activities.
With the potential for an increase in trucking accidents and injuries caused by truck accidents, this is not a decision to be handled lightly. Carriers, the ATA, and the insurance industry will need to get together and present a graduated CDL program to the DOT to ensure that all truck drivers on the road, regardless of age, are properly trained.
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