Supply chains continue to drive to some extent changes in the trucking industry. Some observers believe this could lead to less safe roads for everyone from New York to California.
At least one large change related to the need to get more truckers on the road could result in more inexperienced truckers on the highways.
Industry allows pilot program for young truckers
The New York Post reported on an initiative that would allow individuals aged between 18 and 20 to drive large vehicles across state lines. This program comes in response to companies struggling to keep items on store shelves due to a shortage of truckers. The program, passed in late 2021, has a number of features:
- Accepts up to 3,000 trucking apprentices
- Develops time frames for the program to begin
- Screens new drivers based on rigorous safety standards
- Allows young drivers to drive commercial trucks across state lines
The safety standards required of the pilot drivers include not allowing the drivers to exceed 65 mph or to carry hazardous materials. Young truckers must drive with an experienced trucker and they must have a clean driving record.
Safety advocates express concern
Despite the many rules in place to promote safety, some observers express concern about the program. They point to data that shows a correlation between young drivers and higher crash rates. Any crash that involves a large truck, some weighing as much as 40 tons, has the potential for serious harm.
One concern involves the possibility of an increase in accidents with multiple victims. At least one safety advocate accuses the trucking industry of taking advantage of supply chain concerns to get younger drivers in the cab. The American Trucking Association supports the program.