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Can 18-year-olds really drive trucks?

On Behalf of | Jan 28, 2022 | Truck Accidents |

The minimum age limit to work as a trucker has been 21 years old for a long time. Not anymore. A controversial new pilot scheme means that there are currently 18-year-olds driving tractor-trailer rigs between states.

Trucking companies struggle to find enough drivers. It can lead to extra pressure on the existing ones, which makes it more likely they quit and exacerbate the problem. So, taken from that point of view, anything that helps recruit more drivers may seem like a good thing. But 18 years old?

What is wrong with 18-year-olds?

If you think back to when you were that age, how many of your classmates would you have considered sensible and mature enough to take charge of a truck? Probably none.

You cannot even get a motorcycle license in some states before you turn 18 without your parent’s permission because legislators are worried you might kill yourself doing something dumb. What then makes legislators think you are wise enough to take charge of a vehicle that could kill several others in one fell swoop just because you have had another birthday?

What do the statistics say?

The CNN article cites a University of Michigan study that reports that truckers under 21 years old are at a 500% higher risk of crashing than those over 21. Why would anyone then go ahead and set 18-year-olds loose at the wheels of cabs?

The answer, as it so often is, is industry pressure. Freight companies lack staff. They used that excuse to persuade the government to relax driver hour restrictions. Now they have used it to convince them to relax age restrictions.

If an industry has a staff shortage, there is usually a reason related to poor pay and conditions. Addressing that would be a safer solution than lowering safety standards. If someone under 21 hits you while driving a truck, you may need to look at holding the truck company responsible for employing them in the first place.

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