Teenagers in Georgia who have dreamed of becoming a trucker one day were born during the right time. The trucking industry is so short on qualified drivers right now that it is relaxing age requirements. Now, qualified 18-year-old truck drivers can be hired for interstate trips.
Before the new infrastructure law was signed, truckers had to be at least 21 years old before they could transport goods across state lines. Newly trained teen truckers could only make short-distance pickups and deliveries within their home state.
The trucking industry urged the Biden administration to relax age restrictions, arguing that it still needs 80,000 more truck drivers to meet industry demands. President Biden signed the law, and a new pilot program will allow 18-year-old truckers to make cross-country trips for the next three years.
Trucking is dangerous work
Safety advocates worry that lowering the age requirements for truck drivers could cause an increase in big rig accidents. After all, statistics show that teenagers are four times more likely to crash compared to older drivers.
Trucking is even more dangerous than driving a regular passenger car since trucks are so large and difficult to control. Trucks also have a longer stopping distance and more blind spots than passenger cars. Adding to the danger, long-distance truckers can drive for up to 11 hours per day and 70 hours per week.
Retiring truck drivers
It’s understandable that a truck driver who has been on the road for decades would be ready to retire. However, retirements are causing problems in the trucking industry since there aren’t enough new truckers to fill the positions. While safety advocates say hiring teens is too risky, the trucking industry says it’s their only option.