Washington lawmakers consider changing the rules for young drivers of big rigs

According to a letter sent by the American Trucking Associations, the Developing Responsible Individuals for a Vibrant Economy Safe Act would “create industry-recognized apprenticeships that train 18-21 year olds to drive trucks in interstate commerce.” They support the bill, which would lower the age at which a driver with a CDL can drive across state lines.

As the rule stands now, even with a CDL, truck drivers aren’t allowed to drive big rigs across state lines until they are 21. The biggest reason lawmakers and the ATA want to see this change is to fill empty seats. They said they’re facing a truck driver shortage and hope the bill would help fix that problem.

Local truck drivers have mixed reactions to the proposed change. Cyrus Conner has been a truck driver for 12 years and thinks new drivers need more experience before going on long trips. “I like it how it is now. Let them get experience in state now. There’s a lot involved,” Conner said. “It’s really hard to figure that all out in the beginning.” Forrest Powell disagrees and thinks with proper training and precaution, 18-year-olds should be fine to drive interstate. “Today, big rigs are so modernized, that a lot of the faults a driver could make, this will help them correct,” Powell said. “I think 18 would be sufficient for a person to drive a big truck.”

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