May 30, 2023

Act Aims to Plug Trucking Industry’s 78,000 Driver Shortage

A bill that would lower the age requirement to drive commercial trucks across state lines is now being considered by the House of Representatives.

H.R. 3408, the DRIVE Safe Integrity Act, builds off the pilot program that was included in the 2021 bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. However, that program has been bogged down by extraneous requirements from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), meaning it has seen fewer than a dozen of the expected 3,000 enrollees. The bill, introduced by Reps. Rick Crawford (R-AR) and Henry Cuellar (D-TX) would remove federal rules that block 18- to 20-year-old truck drivers from participating in interstate commerce. Already, 49 states allow these younger drivers to hold a commercial trucking license, however, they are currently prohibited from driving across state lines. If signed into law, the bill would help the trucking industry address a shortage of 78,000 drivers, a necessity to keep the nation’s supply chains moving.

The DRIVE Safe Coalition, a group of more than 120 business and trade groups, including FEDA, sent a letter to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure on May 22 asking them to support the new legislation. “The DRIVE Safe Integrity Act will ensure the pilot program fulfills its purpose by urging DOT to take corrective action to improve program participation, requiring progress reports from DOT to Congress, and directing DOT to review data upon conclusion of the pilot program to inform regulations creating a permanent younger driver apprenticeship program,” the letter states.

“Building a seamless and resilient supply chain requires a skilled, vibrant, and growing trucking workforce,” it continues. “This legislative proposal will bolster new career pathways into interstate trucking operations while promoting safety and training standards that far exceed the bar set by states today. By steering the Safe Driver Apprenticeship Pilot program back to the course Congress originally intended, the DRIVE Safe Integrity Act will ensure trucking has the talent it needs to meet the economy’s freight demands in the years to come.”

The full letter is available here.