The Truck Safety Coalition strongly opposes S.569/H.R.1374, companion bills that would direct Secretary Chao to promulgate a regulation that would permit 18-20 year olds to operate large trucks across state lines.
These misguided measures will not:
- Reverse the worsening trends in truck safety,
- Address the abysmally high turn-over rates throughout the industry, or
- Acknowledge the widespread public opposition to lowering the driving age for interstate trucking.
We do, however, acknowledge that the bills’ original sponsors and co-sponsors: Senators Tester (MT), Young (IN), Moran (KS), Manchin (WV), Inhofe (OK), King (ME), and Cotton (AR) as well as Representatives Cuellar (TX), Mitchell (MI), Cooper (TN), Jackson-Lee (TX), Green (TX), Westerman (AR) all validate that:
The policies to reduce truck crashes that the Truck Safety Coalition promotes, including setting speed limiters at 65 mph, mandating automatic emergency braking, and requiring a minimum number of hours of behind the wheel training, will reduce truck crashes, injuries, and deaths.
If the above lawmakers believe that teen truck drivers should be required to complete at least 240 hours of behind the wheel training and that they should be restricted to trucks equipped with a suite of safety technology in order to compensate for their higher crash risk, these same legislators should support these policies for all truck drivers. Inability to do so would belie the notion that the intent of the legislation was to improve safety, and, instead reveal a different motive: create cheap, exploitable labor for mega-carries who are more concerned with quantity than quality.
This is why we are urging the above-mentioned co-sponsors to withdraw their support for these unsafe bills. Rather than working to offset the dangers associated with teen truck drivers by requiring them to complete a minimum number of hours behind the wheel and restricting them to operating vehicles equipped with key safety technologies, these lawmakers should introduce legislation that would mandate these same requirements for all truck drivers.