Truck Driving Teens to Cross State Lines? Maybe Soon

Teens could soon be behind the wheels of big rigs crossing state lines. Senate is now considering legislation that could allow drivers as young as 18 to drive tractor-trailers between states. Currently, federal law mandates that tractor-trailer drivers crossing state lines are 21 or older. Imagine the increase in truck crash fatalities if this law goes into effect.

Many states, including Pennsylvania, already allow 18-year olds behind the wheel of large trucks, but federal law prohibits them from crossing state lines.

NPR reported that drivers between the ages of 18 to 20 have four to six times higher rates of fatal crashes. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in the U.S. According to the NHTSA Fatality Analysis Reporting System, in 2013, drivers age 18-20 had a fatal crash involvement rate, per 100,000 licensed drivers, that was 66 percent higher than drivers who were age 21 years or older. Statistics don’t lie. Do we really want an 18-year-old behind the wheel of an 18-wheeler driving across the country?

The proposed provision that is part of a much larger Senate highway bill would require the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to create a six-year pilot program that would allow 18-year-olds to drive commercial vehicles, including buses, across state lines. The trucking industry is supporting the legislation due to a shortage of truck drivers. Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey called the proposed bill “a catastrophe for safety progress.”

Is reducing the age limit for interstate truck drivers worth an increase in truck accidents and truck crash fatalities? Long hours – sometimes up to 80 – and the stress of meeting deadlines may be too much for a young, inexperienced driver. It could mean danger for the truck driver as well as for the drivers and passengers of other vehicles sharing the road.

At Fellerman & Ciarimboli, we believe in safety first, and that includes the safety of these teen truck drivers, as well as others on Pennsylvania’s highways and interstates. If you have been injured in a truck crash, we can help. For a free consultation, call truck injury lawyers in Philadelphia at 215-575-9237 or talk to a truck accident lawyer in Wilkes-Barre at 570-714-HURT.

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With more than 40 years of combined experience, the personal injury attorneys at Fellerman & Ciarimboli strive to provide the best service to clients in Philadelphia, Northeast Pennsylvania, and throughout the Keystone State.

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