The trucking industry is pushing teenage drivers as the solution to filling the nationwide shortage of long-distance tractor-trailer operators.
Perhaps there is nothing more illustrative of how little the industry cares about safety and how far it will go to maximize profits.
Our tri-state truck accident attorneys in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia see the tragedies caused by dangerous truckers throughout the Midwest. Allowing teenagers, already the most dangerous drivers on the road, to pilot 80,000 pound semis across state lines can be risky.
Teen Truckers - Teen Drivers - at Highest Risk of Road Accidents
Large trucking companies are backing the proposal largely for the same reason they are pushing the trucker-shortage narrative while continuing to hire younger and less-experienced operators. They don't want to pay a living wage to the nation's fleet of experienced independent truckers.
The Washington Examiner is among the media outlets reporting several members of Congress behind the "Developing Responsible Individuals for a Vibrant Economy Act," or DRIVE-Safe Act, which would allow drivers ages 18-21 to operate long-distance trucks. Currently, most states allow commercial drivers ages 18-21 to operate on state roads, but federal rules prevent them from crossing state lines.
Companies supporting the legislation include UPS, International Foodservice Distributors Association and the American Trucking Association. The ATA cited a shortage of 50,000 truck drivers at the end of 2017, which it contends will grow to 174,000 drivers by 2026.
But a number of safety advocates have voiced opposition, including Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, which argued state data on truck drivers ages 19-21 show they are six times more likely to get into fatal accidents in comparison to all truck drivers. Those statistics should come as no surprise. Teenage drivers are the highest-risk age group on the road; just ask anyone who has shopped for auto insurance for their teenager.
Weirton-Area Drivers Are At Particular Risk
The issue is particularly critical in our area because almost all truck traffic is interstate traffic. Under current law, trucking companies that operate in our area are essentially required to hire drivers 21 and older; this new law would put 18-, 19- and 20-year-olds behind the wheels of 80,000-pound trucks. The risk of serious accidents is particularly high, and the potential benefits for the trucking industry should not outweigh the danger faced by Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania motorists.
Those involved in a trucking accident should always consult a personal injury law firm experienced in handling such cases. These are complex cases involving state and federal regulations, large corporations, and commercial insurance companies. They are adept at defending claims and side-stepping liability. While they face more rules and regulations for operating in a safe manner, it will be incumbent upon an injury victim to prove they failed in that regard.
If you have been injured in a truck accident, contact Recht Law Offices to discuss your options.