America’s long-haul trucking industry provides the vital distribution network that serves retail and so many other sectors of our economy. But a massive truck driver shortage is a worsening problem in the United States, thanks to outdated laws that do not keep up with the needs of today’s workforce or consider modern safety standards in vehicles and roads.
This week, bipartisan legislation was introduced that could solve this issue. The Developing Responsible Individuals for a Vibrant Economy Act (DRIVE-Safe Act) is a common-sense solution that removes federal barriers to allow entry-level people to pursue a lucrative career in the trucking industry without compromising safety standards.
Let your voice be heard now about the DRIVE-Safe Act.
Here are four reasons Congress should pass the DRIVE-Safe Act:
1. We need truck drivers.
The American Trucking Associations estimates that 60,800 driving jobs went unfilled in 2019; without action, the problem is only going to get worse. The average age for truck drivers in the U.S. is 46 years old, meaning companies are facing a retiring workforce. Without action from Congress, trucking companies will be left scrambling to fill vacancies while needing to hire 1.1 million new drivers over the next decade.
2. The current law doesn’t make sense.
Thanks to a 1938 law that’s been on the books since before the creation of the interstate highway system, truck drivers under the age of 21 are banned from taking trips between states. That means they are permitted to drive hundreds of miles within a state but can not make a simple 10-mile trip into another state. It simply doesn’t make sense. We’ve come a long way since 1938 in making both vehicles and roadways safer, and current law should reflect this reality.
3. It creates a pathway for young adults to pursue trucking, without compromising safety.
The current ban on interstate drivers under the age of 21 severely limits career opportunities for recent high school graduates who choose not to go to college. That means they end up in other careers by the time they are old enough to drive across state lines. The DRIVE-Safe Act remedies this issue by allowing employers to create two-stage apprenticeship programs with rigorous training and safety standards to ensure that individuals between 18 and 21 can safely fill these jobs. In fact, the bill’s training and safety requirements exceed those for over-21 drivers, potentially making these drivers better trained.
4. Truck driving is a well-paying career.
Average entry-level pay for a commercial truck driver is $62,000, compared with the average high school graduate’s annual salary of $38,000 and the $51,000 starting salary for the average college graduate — and it comes without the average $33,000 in college loan debt. Why are we limiting the career and earning potential for young Americans?
The DRIVE-Safe Act is a common-sense solution that addresses the truck driver shortage while offering a pathway to a great career for young Americans. Contact your representative in Congress today and urge them to co-sponsor the DRIVE-Safe Act.