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NewsTruckingTrucking Regulation

Teamsters oppose under-21 CDL pilot proposal

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters union has joined the majority of early commenters rejecting a proposed pilot program to lower the restriction for an interstate commercial driver’s license (CDL) from 21 to 18.

Roughly 75 percent of the 180 comments filed so far – just days after Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced the proposal on May 14 – have come out against the initiative, mostly for safety reasons. The Teamsters agree.

“The decision by the FMCSA to propose a pilot program that would lower the commercial driver’s license restriction from 21 to 18 is of grave concern to those who use the roadways as their workplace every day,” Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa said in a statement.

Hoffa noted that restricting a similar ongoing three-year pilot program to veterans with military driving experience, as stipulated when Congress reauthorized the last highway bill, is needed to counter the “enormous safety risks inherent with having teenagers running tractor trailers” in interstate commerce.

“Ignoring that decision and unilaterally deciding to explore a much broader pilot program represents a dismissive wave of the hand to the will of Congress,” Hoffa said.

Both the FMCSA and the American Trucking Associations (ATA) have cited a shortage of drivers – and the fact that younger drivers are already allowed to drive commercially within state boundaries – as a reason for evaluating their safety performance using an interstate pilot project.

After a bill to allow drivers under 21 to haul commercially was reintroduced in Congress in February with bipartisan support, ATA President and CEO Chris Spear commented that it “demonstrates how real a threat the driver shortage presents to our nation’s economic security over the long-term – and how serious our lawmakers are about addressing it with common-sense solutions,” Spear said.

But the Teamsters contend that the FMCSA’s proposed pilot is attempting to address a driver shortage that “mainly plagues one subset of the trucking industry,” referring to the large-carrier truckload sector, a Teamsters spokesman told FreightWaves. That sector is a significant portion of ATA’s membership.

“Instead of discussing the rampant turnover that part of industry faces, or the low pay and tough working conditions those drivers endure, we are disappointed to see the agency only focus on how they can get more drivers into these jobs with no suggestions of how to improve the quality of the work while they are there,” Hoffa said.

“Younger drivers should not be expected to tolerate substandard working conditions any more than their older counterparts. Asking them to do so while also potentially jeopardizing the safety of all road users only makes this decision more troubling.”

FMCSA’s proposal, in addition to any general comments, is asking for public comment on two specific questions:

  • What data are currently available on the safety performance (e.g., crash involvement, etc.) of 18-20-year-old drivers operating CMVs [commercial motor vehicles] in intrastate commerce?
  • Are there concerns about obtaining insurance coverage for drivers under 21 who operate CMVs in intrastate commerce, and would these challenges be greater for interstate operations?

Comments on the proposal are due July 15.

John Gallagher, Washington Correspondent

Based in Washington, D.C., John specializes in regulation and legislation affecting all sectors of freight transportation. He has covered rail, trucking and maritime issues since 1993 for a variety of publications based in the U.S. and the U.K. John began business reporting in 1993 at Broadcasting & Cable Magazine. He graduated from Florida State University majoring in English and business.

74 Comments

  1. I dont understand why these guys are appealing this..I’m a truck driver and if there being monatored by the Gov. Then so be it…U people do nothing for the trucking industry anymore…Its all yalls fault we are being monatored by the Gov. To begin with…with all ur lies and deceat over the yrs not being honest and not driving like u should to begin with…Ur not even a legit union for truckers anymore…Dont listen to these people their crooks and liers…Truckers do stand by each other and do stand up for each other…but its and individual thing now…I talk to honest working hard truckers out here who didnt get wat they got or where they got too, NOT by the lieing Teamsters, but on there own. I’m tired of one group thinking their speaking for the whole cause ur not…Seek ur dreams give people a chance…I would say if U can’t Infisise the Consiquences, the Reality and Safety of this job to every person driving a Big Rig then we have Lost…Cause above all we do…U HAVE TO HAVE OTHER PEOPLE LIFE AND UR OWN TO DO THIS…NO ONE WANTS THE LOSE OF A LIFE ON THEM FOR THE REST OF OUR LIVES!!! If we lose this mindset we have let the industry go to hell.

  2. I have a 18 and 19 year old boys. They grew up around heavy equipment and semis. They are NOT ready!!! God forbid some big company got ahold of them and sent them out to do this job. They are still kids at 18. I do NOT agree with this!

  3. Let me say it this way.
    They can go to war for us.
    So your saying they can die for us
    but can’t drive for us.

    1. I think 23 for intrastate is too young. With the staggering numbers of foreign drivers and throwing caution to the wind it’s no wonder why I see all these crash sites..they load em like back home and most drivers will absolutely not back off the throttle when your passing on a 2 lane..and to have the kind of things happen as they do in traffic it begs for trouble..countless times I’ve had to avoid an issue by some ahole coming into your lane before the trailer tires are past the drivers door.. imho drivers need a psychological evaluation to be permitted to advance to driver training classes that should be no less than 6 mos and include how to throw iron and how to drive in the snow complete knowledge of inspecting and maintaining a truck hands on no photos of a book. So many don’t even have a tire gauge.they just get in and fly down the highway untill a tire blows.. then fly a little more until the other blows next to it..they probably don’t even know by looking if a rim was damaged..most don’t know what they are looking at under the hood how to change a light bulb or how to check for a blown fuse.and one more thing when your in a construction zone you only need 2 lights working so turn off your extra led lights because I can’t see a damn thing when you go by.be courteous to your fellow drivers. Speed in truckstop is 10 mph not 25 or 30 no passing trucks on the way out or driving behind while they’re backing into a spot you people are idiots. And to the big companies that are schooling these new drivers for most people 2 week training is not enough and for some 2 months wouldn’t be enough don’t just pass them and hope for the best it’s your driver be responsible and teach everything about the truck..and never make a new driver a trainer after a month it should be 2 yrs minimum before a person is qualified to train another.. there are so many other points to mention is drivers should always monitor your cb. Escorts number stickers are cheap pick a channel your running and put the number sticker on the back to indicate what channel your on so we can communicate .. these are just some common sense things from the way It used to be out there . When we drove a stick and loved it ..steering wheel holders make statistics …one question for the people who know.. why in the hell did they think it was a good idea to connect the Jake to the brake light switch? I use my Jake in traffic a lot and so do a lot of other people.. and I always wonder is it Jake or is it brake.. they need to recall all trucks like this and turn it off. As it would save on the road rage issue

    2. 100 % ANSWER !
      DICIPLINE IS ACQUIRED AFTER MIN. OF A COURSE, AND CALL IT APPRENTICESHIP ! LOW PAY, AND BELOW STANDARD SHIPPERS WILL NEVER ALLOW THIS TO BE SAFELY implemented !
      STAY SAFE ! KEEP PROFESSIONAL
      DRIVERS DRIVING !
      PAY YOUR DUES . PAY YOUR DRIVERS .

  4. As a 22 year Otr driver and a father of a 20 year old son, this proposal would cause a lot more problems than they would solve. Most kids today are not mentally tough enough for the challenges that living on the road puts a body through let alone navigating through adverse weather conditions. There would be a lot of trucks abandoned in truck stops and freight undelivered. In addition the most kids are not ready for the immense responsibility of safely navigating an 80000 lbs vehicle in heavy traffic. I for one would not feel comfortable with my wife and kids passing or being passed by an 18 wheeler operated by a kid who is more worried about the next time he got home to see his girlfriend than the curve that is coming up.

  5. So I can never understand why you need to be 21 for a lot of privalages but you can join the military at 18 and be given access to the most powerful weapons in the world and possibly die for your country. Until we make the age to join the military 21, then everything should be aloud at 18, or else why call an 18 an adult if he/she is still restricted in society.

    1. Nobody gave you those weapons !
      On a public way, or in a situation you could easily be distracted from duty !
      Because you can plug in a light……
      Doesn’t make you an electrical engineer!

  6. Why is it, companies try everything they can to get drivers, except what people really work for. MONEY AND BENEFITS increase those and the driver shortage will be gone. Instead of driver shortage they should say there is a shortage of people who want to rarely see home, be treated like garbage and make pathetic wage for working 70hrs a week.

  7. It has nothing to do with reflexes or competency. It has to do with a lack of judgement that younger we all experience in youth. Generally, most teenagers are chasing much different things than most adults and that makes all the difference. Replying by saying that of course your teenager is different is not an argument.

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