Parents may hesitate to hand teens the keys to the family car, but Congress is proposing to allow drivers as young as 18 to get behind the wheel of big rigs on the nation's interstates.
Federal regulations currently require drivers be at least 21 before they can drive commercial trucks across state lines, but a bill introduced this week would allow contiguous states that join together in "compacts" to drop the age threshold to 18 for interstate trips.
There is no limit on the number of states that could join the compacts In 2013, all drivers ages 18-20 had a fatal crash involvement rate, per 100,000 licensed drivers, that was 66 percent higher than drivers who were age 21 years or older, according to the Transportation Department's Fatality Analysis Reporting System.
Read more about just how dangerous big-rigs really are: http://www.zacharlawblog.com/2014/04/the-dangers-behind-large-truck-accidents.html
The change is being sought by the trucking industry to help address a shortage of truck drivers.
The American Trucking Associations estimates that the current shortage of drivers is roughly 35,000 to 40,000, but because of retirements and individuals leaving the industry, trucking companies will need to recruit nearly 100,000 new drivers a year over the next decade to keep pace with the country's freight needs.
Jackie Gillan, president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, said allowing teens to drive trucks weighing as much as 80,000 pounds and to work as many as 82 hours a week, as is permitted in the truck industry, is a "catastrophe waiting to happen.
The combination of inexperience, high-risk driving and large trucks can cause unbelievable devastation." To obtain an interstate commercial driver's license, drivers must pass a written knowledge test and a driving skills test administered by a state motor vehicles department.
But there is no requirement that drivers first receive on the road training or attend a training school, Gillan said. DID YOU KNOW?
In England, the laws require taxi drivers and bus drivers to have FOUR YEARS of on the road training before they are allowed to work? Get that?
FOUR years of on-the-road training to be a taxi driver, yet, the United States is considering allowing 18 years olds who only need to pass a written test to operate the biggest and scariest vehicles on the highways????
Is there anyone else out there that just thinks this is a REALLY BAD IDEA??