The American Trucking Association (ATA) has some ambitious goals for 2015. Earlier this year they announced that their agenda includes working on highway funding, safety fitness determination requirements for truckers and trying to solve the driver shortage in the U.S.
As we discussed in another post, the truck driver shortage is becoming a more pressing issue as the current generation of drivers continues to age. As more drivers are reaching retirement, there are fewer young drivers entering the field. For years, the industry has been trying to solve this crisis and working to attract millennials. As a result, the ATA is looking for new ways to connect with the younger generation and create change within the industry to better fit their needs.
One of the greatest challenges in attracting new drivers is presenting trucking as a legitimate career path. To prevent this crisis from worsening, many believe the minimum age requirement for obtaining a CDL should be lowered from 21 years old to 18 or 19.
ATA believes timing is crucial to solving the driver shortage. Most 18 year olds are leaving high school and selecting a career path. Since the current age requirement for a CDL license is 21, driving is not an option for newly graduating seniors. As a result, many explore other careers and spend roughly 2-3 years working towards other paths. Trucking simply becomes Plan B for many. The industry believes they are missing their golden opportunity to present commercial transit as a career path. Lowering the age could greatly improve the shortage issue because they are reaching the upcoming workforce at the right time.
However, some question the safety behind this – Is an 18 year old experienced enough to maintain this career? Many say yes they do have the necessary experience needed since most states allow drivers to receive their driving permit by the ages of 14 or 15. By the time they reach 18, they would already have a few years to mature as drivers.
Lowering the minimum truck driving age is not a new concept. Some states have already lowered their minimum age requirement for acquiring a CDL to 18 or 19 and found success in attracting millennials. However, drivers under the age of 21 have to remain within state borders, which is limiting for both carriers and employees.
It is clear that the pros outweigh the cons in this debate; however we will see how this plays out. This could be a solution to help solve the current driver shortage we are facing.
What is your opinion? Should the minimum driving age for a CDL be lowered to 18 across the country?