Women comment on 18-20-year-old driver proposal

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The American Trucking Associations approve of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s proposal for a pilot project to allow 18 to 20-year-old drivers to drive commercial motor vehicles interstate.

The Owner-Operators Independent Drivers Association thinks its a bad idea. So do the Teamsters.

And, a lot of other folks are weighing in online. The FMCSA is accepting comments online now through July 15. You can make a comment here.

There currently is a pilot program to allow 18-20-year-old military veterans to drive interstate. Now it wants a similar one for all 18-20-year-olds. The agency is seeking comments on:

  • What is the available data on the safety performance of under-21 intrastate truckers?
  • Are there concerns over insuring under-21 drivers for both intrastate and interstate commerce?
  • What minimum training should be required for drivers in the pilot program?
  • What kind of supervision should be required?
  • Should there be training requirements for mentors, supervisors or co-drivers of under-21 truckers in the program?
  • Should participating carriers be required to establish a formal apprenticeship program?
  • Should there be time or distance restrictions on younger drivers?
  • Should younger drivers be prohibited from hauling hazmat and oversize/overweight?
  • What standards should carriers and drivers have to meet to participate in the pilot?
  • What should happen if drivers in the pilot are convicted of violations while operating interstate?
  • At what point should a driver or carrier be removed from the program?
  • Should FMCSA require safety equipment or onboard recording systems in the pilot?

Among the comments made online are these:

Katrina Thompson: “I have several drivers in their early 20’s and it is a challenge. They just don’t have the maturity they need to be operating a semi. I would hate to see an 18-year-old on the highways. The schools that are turning out these drivers need better regulations. They do not teach them anything other than how to hold the steering wheel, most can’t even back up a truck and trailer.”

Margarett Cohen: “No, it is not a good idea for 18-year-olds to drive a big rug under any circumstances, they can barely drive a car. There are enough accidents that involve teenagers and now you want to allow them to drive a 50-ton vehicle. No. No. No.”

Melody Atkins: “As a professional driver and current holder of a Class A CDL, I can state without hesitation that it is a very bad idea to have anyone under the age of 21 years of age obtain a CDL regardless of where those individuals would travel. The younger generation of drivers do not know or care about safety. They do not observe professional courtesy.
The senior drivers are retiring and creating the shortage of drivers because the seniors don’t want to deal with the nonsense these young “baby drivers” are exhibiting. The young do not want to listen, work hard or respect fellow drivers. We do not associate ourselves with such trouble. To lower age requirements simply to fill seats with very young drivers looking to cash in without fully understanding the responsibilities of a truck driver would be foolhardy at best. Are you prepared to be responsible for the loss of life and property that will most certainly come next?”

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Heidi Day: “I operate a towing company in Sioux City, Iowa. This city is in a tri-state area and many times every day we cross state lines for our business. Many young people looking for mechanical/outdoor work are not employable because of this reason. These young people are often discouraged from entering the labor workforce and end up going to college. College is great, but many times they do not finish and end up applying for the same type of job three years later, carrying the baggage of a large student loan with them. We need more skilled workers produced through on the job training. We have been a stepping stone for many men in this area to go on to work for the state, start their own small businesses and become owner/operator drivers. The possibilities are endless with young people that are given the ability to thrive. This bill would assist our country in rebuilding the shrinking pool of drivers, hands-on people we’re getting to be in desperate need of!”

Sherri Glover: “I don’t think anyone under 21 should operate a CMV. There are too many people who have CDLs that should not have them. There is a lot of responsibility that goes with driving a CMV and I don’t believe most 21-year-olds are mature enough for the responsibility let alone younger people.”

Cythinia Limon: “I don’t agree with allowing drivers under the age of 21 to obtain their CDL. The driver shortage was proven to be a myth and in fact, there is a freight shortage right now. Mega carriers will send these drivers out on their own without proper training and skills to live and work in an 80,000-pound machine. Very few young adults can even handle a small car at that age, but now you’re proposing to take these people that probably have never been away from home and send them across the country with an 80,000lb killing machine and very little oversight by their carrier?!? This is the perfect opportunity by the ATA to flood the market with cheap labor and lower the freight rates even further.

Tricia Gilbert: “I do not agree to have a pilot program allowing individuals under the age of 21 to drive in interstate commerce. Drivers need to be experienced OTR and safe. [Those] ages 21 [and younger] do not have enough experience. It will jeopardize safety and allow trucking companies to pay lower wages to inexperienced drives causing discrimination and hostilities on OTR drivers.”