EMA Joins Coalition in Letter of Support for 18-Year-Old Interstate Drivers

EMA joined others this week in a letter of support for the DRIVE Safe Act amendment to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation mark-up of S.2016, the “Surface Transportation Investment Act.” Sen. Todd Young (R-IN) offered the amendment which would allow people under the age of 21 to operate a commercial motor vehicle in interstate commerce via an apprenticeship program.

Although 49 states and the District of Columbia currently allow individuals under the age of 21 to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL) and operate in intrastate commerce, these same individuals are prohibited from driving a truck across state lines until they turn 21. The DRIVE Safe Act would change this through a rigorous two-step apprenticeship program that creates a path for these drivers to enter the industry.

To qualify, candidates must complete at least 400 hours of additional training—more than what is required for any other CDL holder in the nation. All qualified drivers who participate in the program would only be allowed to drive trucks outfitted with the latest safety technology, including active braking collision mitigation systems, forward-facing event recording cameras, speed limiters set at 65 miles per hour or less and automatic or automatic manual transmissions. Professional drivers training within the program are also required to be accompanied by an experienced driver throughout the process.

In the 116th Congress, the DRIVE-Safe Act received support from more than one-third of House and Senate. Although EMA drivers transporting fuel would not be covered under the DRIVE-Safe Act since drivers must be 21 to qualify for a hazardous materials endorsement (HME), EMA supports the bill because it would expand the number of CDL drivers overall, some of whom may choose to obtain an HME in the future.

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