The Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Transportation and Safety held a hearing in February of 2020 concerning a bill introduced the previous year that, if passed, would open up interstate travel to commercial truck drivers under 21. West Virginia residents should know that every state except Hawaii allows 18- to 20-year-old CMV drivers to travel intrastate.
The bill, known as Developing Responsible Individuals for a Vibrant Economy or the DRIVE-Safe Act, proposes a probationary period for these young drivers before they start to travel interstate. They would be required to travel for 400 hours, and a driver 21 or older would accompany them for at least 240 of those hours.
Several groups oppose the bill. The executive vice president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association says that the bill is unnecessary because the driver shortage that it’s meant to address does not exist. The president of the Truck Safety Coalition says that 18- to 20-year-old truckers have a higher crash rate than other truckers, and having them travel to unfamiliar states would make matters worse.
There were calls for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to study data on crash rates for truckers under 21. Others during the hearing advocated for better infrastructure as a way to improve safety policies. The hearing also addressed hours-of-service regulations.
Whatever their age, truckers can become negligent on the road. Other times, accidents are caused indirectly through trucking company negligence. For example, the company may not have been stringent enough in its hiring process or may have inadequately trained the driver. Whatever the nature of the case, victims may want a lawyer to help them build up a case against the company. The lawyer may handle all negotiations, leaving litigation only as a last resort.