Did Surveillance Cameras Stop Teens From Trucking?

By: ClassADrivers.com

Photo by Chris Yang on Unsplash

The trucking industry has long debated a so-called “truck driver shortage.” As in the case of any supposed labor shortage, the ways to attract new candidates varies.

Fortunately for truck drivers, companies actually listened and began offering higher pay and more benefits, such as flexible home time, to attract drivers to their companies.

Another strategy to increase the overall pool of labor was to reduce the age required for long-haul trucking. While some intrastate drivers can be as young as 18, the law currently requires long-haul drivers to be 21 years old.

Congress, however, created the Safe Driver Apprenticeship Program that would act as a pilot program to permit young people between the ages of 18-20 to become apprentices and drive over-the-road. This program was created in 2021 as part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and was only supposed to last for three years.

While the industry hoped hundreds or even thousands would flock to the new program, only 36 people signed up. Only 13 graduated. Only 34 trucking companies were even approved out of a meager 112 applicants.

With such an embarrassing rollout, fingers had to be pointed and someone had to be to blame.

The American Trucking Association pointed to one of the safety regulations that came as part of the Safe Driver Apprenticeship Program – the requirement that cameras must face towards the young driver and surveil them at all times.

According to the ATA’s Nathan Mehrens, “These additional mandates have stifled program participation, limiting the utility of data that Congress ordered be collected on drivers in this age cohort.”

Was this actually the reason so few young people applied to become truck drivers? We may find out soon because Congress will likely repeal the camera requirement as part of a budget bill that will fund the government through the end of the fiscal year.

Repealing any safety regulation, especially for young drivers, is controversial, and there may be a number of other factors contributing to the lack of enthusiasm for the program. But the cameras may be gone soon, so we shall find out.