Once again, we see the trucking industry, through its chief lobbyist, the American Trucking Associations (ATA), attempt to influence the federal government in ways that could ease the driver problem. Kevin Jones from Fleet Owner reports (in this article) the strategy is to attempt is to slip a request into the massive highway funding bill and ask for conditional permits for those under 21, perhaps made more palatable by imposing additional training. To be clear, 21 is not a magical age at which point someone gets enhanced abilities or skills. In fact, our greatest Olympic athletes are almost always much younger.
The 21 year old rule has out-lived its usefulness. It does far more damage than most people realize. There is no clear career path from High School Graduation to truck driving. Instead, 18 year olds can begin work in construction and related trades, retail, banking, sales and general labor. They can even join the military and die for our country. But they may not drive a truck in interstate commerce. Changing this one rule would have a dramatic and positive impact on the driver problem.
Regardless of this ruling, carriers need to have a plan in place to recruit, hire and train recent CDL graduates. The average of Over-The-Road drivers is 55. New blood is desperately needed. If a carrier want to deliver freight in 2019, it needs to invest in a truck driver finishing school program with a behaviorally-based driver training right away.