How Does the DRIVE Safe Act Affect Young Truck Drivers?


On February 26th, 2019, the DRIVE Safe Act was introduced to the United States Senate. Last week, the bill was introduced in the House of Representatives, and trucking industry representatives, such as the American Trucking Association, praised the development.

So what is the DRIVE Safe Act, and how does it affect truck drivers? Read on to find out.

Changing Federal Regulations

Currently, almost all 50 states allow CDL holders under the age of 21 to drive semi-trucks. Yet despite the uniformity among states, federal law prohibits these young drivers from hauling cargo across state borders.

To codify the state consensus into federal law, the DRIVE Safe Act was created.

Under the new bill, CDL drivers under the age of 21 would be able to haul cargo across the nation without restrictions. In order to make interstate runs, however, drivers would need to undergo the following training and examination:

  • Complete 400-hours of on-duty experience with a seasoned trucker
  • Drive 240-hours with a trainer
  • Truck being used must have active braking collision mitigation systems, event video capture, and a speed governor that is set to 65 mph

What Trucking Representatives Say

In general, most trucking representatives approve of the DRIVE Safe Act. For example, Chris Spear, CEO and President of ATA, stated “This bill has strong, bipartisan backing because it’s both common sense and pro-safety”.

Spear went on to acknowledge that “The DRIVE Safe Act is not a path to allow every young person to drive across state lines” but that “…it envisions creating a safety-centered process for identifying, training and empowering the safest, most responsible 18- to 20-year-olds to more fully participate in our industry.”

Mark S. Allen, CEO and President of the International Foodservice Distributors Association, stated “…the pandemic highlighted how essential professional drivers are to our everyday life, increasing the demand for this specific kind of job.”

Allen went on to note that “The DRIVE-Safe Act will hasten our economic recovery by providing an opportunity for new drivers to enter the workforce while reinforcing a culture of safety far and above current standards.”

The DRIVE Safe Act is part of the effort to address what many in the industry call a “truck driver shortage”. Roughly 110,000 new truckers need to be added each year to fulfill the projected quota of 1.1 million driving positions in 2031. Although some existing drivers contend that the shortage could be solved by making trucking a higher-paying and more appealing job, rather than trying to expand the number of legal interstate drivers.