Not yet, although the law may be changing soon.
Many lawmakers and industry officials are on board with allowing individuals who are 18 years of age and older to operate commercial trucks such as semis and big rigs for long trips, although no law has yet been passed that permits individuals under the age of 21 to get behind the wheel of these vehicles to make trips across the country. Lawmakers are proposing the Drive Safe Act, also known as the Developing Responsible Individuals for a Vibrant Economy Act, to help modify this so that individuals who are18 years of age and older would, in fact, be permitted to operate these vehicles across the country.
States such as Kansas and Missouri already allow individuals who have reached the age of 18 to obtain their CDL, however, they cannot go on trips that require them to go beyond state lines. The Drive Safe Act would change that and help address the truck driver shortage the industry is experiencing. In 2013, the shortage of truck drivers was at 20,000 although experts estimate that the shortage will soon increase to 100,000 by 2021 [Source: TheTrucker.com]. While many are on board with this change in law, others are concerned that filling the void of drivers is only going to make things worse.
What are the pros and cons of extending the age range to 18 to operate commercial trucks across state lines?
- The suggestion for a new law came about after the trucking industry began to experience a shortage of workers. As you know, these large trucks that make these long trips are responsible for putting food on certain shelves and products in certain stores and without them, companies are struggling to get the things they need in the timeframe that they need it. Therefore, one advantage of extending the age range to 18 and older to operate trucks nationwide would help reduce the truck driver shortage.
- Companies won’t have to increase the pay rate for drivers who have been in the industry for years if they allow 18-year-olds to start completing these same long-haul jobs. Many companies have already shown they aren’t interested in increasing the pay rate which is likely why the shortage of drivers continues to grow.
- According to the director of a Kansas City truck driving school, having 18-year-old operate trucks across the country is “unsafe” and an all-around “bad idea.”
- A letter written by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association in protest of the Drive Safe Act stated, “Younger drivers both lack overall experience and are less safe behind the wheel than their older counterparts. In fact, CMV drivers under the age of 19 are four times more likely to be involved in fatal crashes” [Source: TheTrucker.com].
While the debate continues as to whether it is a good idea to allow 18-year-olds to operate commercial truck across state lines, thousands of truckers are still out on the roadways working endless hours trying to get their load to their assigned destination. And the reality is, being a truck driver isn’t an easy job in today’s day and age, especially with all of the inattentive and distracted drivers out on the roadways.
Truck collisions tend to cause serious damage and injuries. If you have been involved in a wreck in Kansas while operating a truck, it is best you speak with a truck accident lawyer as soon as possible.
If you are a truck driver who operates in Kansas and have been involved in a wreck with a careless driver, it is important that you connect with one of our Kansas truck accident attorneys who can help you understand what your accident is worth and how you can go about obtaining this amount. USAttorneys.com works closely with the top truck wreck lawyers in the state of Kansas and would be happy to place you in touch with one.