The chronic driver shortage continues to hamper the U.S. trucking industry, but relief could be around the corner with the proposed DRIVE-Safe Act, which would allow individuals under the age of 21 to cross state lines.
While federal regulations allow drivers under 21 to obtain a commercial driver’s license for intrastate commerce, they are not allowed to cross state lines until they turn 21 years old.
The DRIVE-Safe Act would create a rigorous two-step apprenticeship program to address this barrier. Candidates must complete at least 400 hours of additional training, and they must be accompanied by an experienced driver in the cab, as well as drive a truck outfitted with the latest safety technology, such as active braking collision mitigation systems, forward-facing event recording cameras, speed governors set at 65 mph or less, and automatic or automatic manual transmissions.
It’s estimated that the trucking industry needs an additional 60,800 truck drivers immediately—a deficit that is expected to grow to more than 160,000 by 2028. Moreover, the continued retirement of drivers coupled with growing freight volumes means the trucking industry will need to hire roughly 1.1 million new drivers over the next decade, or an average of nearly 110,000 per year.
According to the American Trucking Associations (ATA), “The COVID-19 pandemic further exacerbated the truck driver shortage, and the temporary closures of state DMVs and truck driver training schools dried up the already fragile pipeline of new drivers entering the trucking industry.
“And as a result of the already crippling driver shortage, companies in supply chains across the economy are facing higher transportation costs, leading to increased prices for consumers on everything from electronics to food,” and wine, we might add.