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US Congress May Pass New Trucking Legislation

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It’s no secret that the trucking industry has been suffering from a truck driver shortage. The effects of this have already begun to be felt by industry professionals and consumers.


The price of moving a truckload of goods has been rising every week. As distribution prices go up, so do shipping costs for consumers. Amazon Prime members have already noted a 20% increase in their membership fee due to rising shipping costs. E-commerce shipping has already put a strain on drivers, which is only going to get worse. It has been estimated that trucking companies will need to hire an additional 890,000 drivers over the next ten years to keep up with demand.


The simple solution is to hire more drivers, but it’s not that easy.


Truck driving is a lucrative career path. Drivers can make $50,000-$100,000 USD a year in addition to bonuses and benefits. Unfortunately, the main driver demographic is older and is nearing retirement age, meaning the shortage issue is only going to get worse in the next few years without a fix.


The answer is to hire younger drivers. Driving is an appealing career path for many young people in America. It provides an opportunity to travel, make a stable salary, and freedom from a standard 9-5 job that their generation is resistant to. So why aren’t trucking companies hiring them?


Current federal legislation is exacerbating the truck driving shortage by barring a new generation of drivers from entering the industry. State laws dictate what age individuals have to be to earn a Commercial Drivers License (CDL), although it’s usually about 18 years old. However, federal law requires drivers to be 21 years old to both cross state lines and to move interstate commerce. This outdated restriction is severely limiting the hiring pool.


Luckily, a new bill was recently introduced to Congress in February 2019. This legislation, the DRIVE- Safe Act (S. 569, H.R. 1374) would remove the unnecessary age restriction. It would also enhance safety and training standards for current and newly qualified drivers.


Under the new act, once drivers receive their CDL, they will engage in a two-step training program with thorough performance benchmarks. Drivers would train on trucks with new safety technology such as active braking collision mitigation systems, video event capture, and speed governors. Driver safety and training are vital to keeping the roads safe and having a new generation of truckers trained on using this technology from the beginning will only further increase road safety.


So far, it has received bipartisan support in both the House and Senate. In the current political climate in the United States, bipartisan support is extremely rare, which is why those in the trucking industry are optimistic the new bill will pass. It’s paramount to the economy to hire more drivers, and hopefully soon a new generation of American’s will be eligible to join this lucrative career path.


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