Truck drivers in Maryland and around the country used to have to be at least 21 years old before they could be hired for interstate trips. However, a new infrastructure law will allow people as young as 18 to become long-haul truckers. The change to federal regulations is an effort to solve an ongoing truck driver shortage that could affect supply chains across the country.
Safety advocates are worried
Younger truck drivers have much less experience than the seasoned highway veterans that are getting ready to retire. However, the trucking industry is short an estimated 80,000 drivers, and trucking companies need to hire new drivers to meet industry demands. Safety advocates say that lowering the age for truck drivers isn’t the answer since teenagers have a four-times higher chance of being involved in big rig accidents than older drivers.
Rules have already been relaxed
Scheduling regulations for the trucking industry have already been relaxed by the Department of Transportation in recent years. Under the Trump administration, there was an exemption created for truckers that needed to work 14-hour shifts close to their starting points. In most cases, truckers are limited to 11-hour workdays and a maximum of 70 hours of driving per week.
Truck safety affects everyone on the road
Safety advocates say that relaxing trucking regulations could put everyone on the road at risk, including the truck drivers themselves. Trucker fatigue is already a huge problem in the trucking industry as truckers are often under pressure to take fewer breaks during their already long shifts. When you add inexperienced and risk-prone drivers into the mix, the result could be dangerous roads.