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Semitruck driving down the road. The push by some members of the trucking industry to take teenagers from high school hallways and put them behind the wheel of CMVs on high-speed highways predates the COVID-19 pandemic and current attention on supply chain challenges, often within the context of a so-called “driver shortage.” However, a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics study found no evidence to support the contention. (Credit: Jamesteohart/Adobe Stock)

While our nation has been experiencing supply chain challenges, we also are experiencing catastrophic conditions on our roadways with recently released crash fatality figures for last year revealing that nearly 43,000 people were killed, a 16-year high. This included an increase in large truck-involved crashes which killed 5,601 people, a rise of 13%, the highest number of fatalities in a single year since 1988.

Research, data and real-world experience prove that young, inexperienced drivers have higher crash rates than older drivers with more experience, and motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death for 15- to 20-year-olds. Lowering the minimum age for interstate truck drivers from 21 to 18, a proposal advanced as a pilot program in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA, Pub. L. 117-58) and highlighted in the PropertyCasualty360.com article, “Is that 18-year-old driving your commercial truck?” will not address the underlying problems causing the truck driver retention issue, but it will imperil both the teens behind the wheel of the big rigs and everyone sharing the roads with them.

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