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Disputed bill may allow interstate travel to truckers under 21

CDL holders between the ages of 18 and 20 can only travel intrastate, according to Virginia law. This holds for all other states except Hawaii. However, a bill called the DRIVE-Safe Act and introduced in February 2019 proposes a change. If passed, it would allow truckers under 21 to travel interstate after a probationary period of 400 hours of driving time, at least 240 of which would be accompanied by a trucker 21 or older.

The Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Transportation and Safety held a hearing on this bill, as well as on hours-of-service regulations and other trucking-related issues, in February 2020. Numerous panelists, which included spokespeople for groups like the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and Truck Safety Coalition, raised objections against the bill.

One was that, according to various studies, truckers under 21 have a much higher crash rate than other truckers. If they are allowed to travel interstate, where the routes are most likely unfamiliar to them, then the risk for crashes will only increase. Another objection was that the reason for introducing the bill, namely, that there is a driver shortage, does not stand up to scrutiny.

Others were concerned that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is doing little to maintain and update trucking regulations. This standstill can negatively impact the bill's implementation.

While many truck crashes are due to the inexperience of the trucker, others are the fault not so much of the trucker but of the truck driver's employer. For example, the trucking company may have failed to uphold standards for hiring and training its employees. Victims may speak with a lawyer about filing a personal injury claim against the company, and the lawyer, if retained, might help strengthen that claim with the evidence gathered by investigators and other third parties.

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