DRIVE Safe Act Reintroduced In U.S. Senate And House To Address Driver Shortage

Last Week, U.s. Senators Todd Young (R-IN) and Jon Tester (D-MT) reintroduced the Developing Responsible Individuals for a Vibrant Economy (DRIVE-Safe) Act to address the driver shortage in the trucking and logistics industry, and enhance safety training and job opportunities for young truckers.

U.S. Senators Tom Cotton (R-AR), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Angus King (I-ME), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Jerry Moran (R-KS), and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) joined as original cosponsors of the bill.

Though 49 states and the District of Columbia allow individuals to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL) at the age 18, federal law currently prohibits those operators from moving goods from state to state until they are 21.

The DRIVE-Safe Act establishes an apprenticeship program that would allow for the legal operation of a commercial motor vehicle in interstate commerce by CDL holders under the age of 21.

Although this legislation will not apply to hazmat drivers, it will add to the overall pool of drivers.

“The trucking and national supply chain network have been fundamental to America’s response to the coronavirus, moving goods to support medical personnel and sustain the public throughout this crisis,” said Senator King. “The industry is vital to our everyday life, but driver shortages threaten its future. The DRIVE Safe Act addresses these challenges by creating an apprenticeship program that works across state lines, enhances the skills of our workforce, and helps train the next generation of safe drivers. I’m proud to once again stand with my bipartisan group of colleagues to introduce this bill, and hope that the Congress will move on this commonsense solution to a pressing problem.”

“Commercial drivers are the hard-working Americans who keep our nation running day in and day out, but tens of thousands of good-paying commercial driver jobs are left empty. Federal rules currently prevent commercial drivers under 21 from crossing state lines,” said Senator Manchin. “In West Virginia, that means someone can drive 5 hours from Beckley to Weirton, but can’t drive another 15 minutes over the river to Steubenville. We should be getting West Virginians into these jobs right out of high school, but many companies just don’t want to deal with the hassle. This bipartisan legislation will help fill that gap by establishing an apprenticeship training program for young Americans interested in these good-paying jobs. I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to join us on this commonsense bill to put Americans back to work and fill vital roles in our economy.”

The apprenticeship training program would help ensure these drivers are trained beyond current standards while instituting rigorous safety standards and performance benchmarks.

The apprenticeship program established by the DRIVE-Safe Act would require young drivers to complete at least 400 hours of on-duty time and 240 hours of driving time with an experienced driver in the cab with them.

All trucks used for training in the program must be equipped with safety technology including active braking collision mitigation systems, a video event capture system, and a speed governor set at 65 miles per hour or below.

U.S. Representative Trey Hollingsworth (R-IN-09) introduced a companion bill in the House. Jim Cooper (D-TN), Henry Cuellar (D-TX), Elissa Slotkin (D-MI), Jared Golden (D-ME), Troy Balderson (R-OH), Ashley Hinson (R-Iowa), Bruce Westerman (R-AR) and Darin LaHood (R-IL) joined as original cosponsors of the bill.

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