The FMCSA is seeking public input on a pilot program that would allow 18- to 20-year-olds to operate commercial motor vehicles in interstate commerce.
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, the largest national association representing professional and small business truckers, said Tuesday it opposes a proposal to launch a pilot program allowing drivers under 21 to participate in interstate commerce.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is seeking public comment on a potential pilot program that would allow drives ages 18 to 20 to operate motor vehicles in interstate commerce.
The OOIDA has opposed similar efforts and last year signed a coalition letter opposing the DRIVE Safe Act and other bills, citing them as detrimental to highway safety.
“Rather than developing ways to allow more teenagers behind the wheel of commercial trucks, the federal government should be taking steps to reverse the incessantly high driver turnover rate, which remains above 90 percent among large truckload carriers,” said Todd Spencer (pictured above), president of OOIDA. “Efforts should focus on improving the industry instead of trying to hire more cheap labor.”
OOIDA contends that younger drivers — especially teenagers — generally lack the maturity and experience to operate a CMV at the safest levels.
“Launching this pilot program would go against FMCSA’s goal of improving highway safety,” Spencer said. “The agency should not be used as a tool for large motor carriers to expand their driver pool instead of fixing the problems that have led to their extremely high turnover rates.
“If highway safety is the priority, the age should go up, not down. Instead of efforts to entice the least experienced, the focus should be hiring and retaining the most experienced drivers, not expanding the funnel of driver churn,” he said.