Kentucky, along with every state except Hawaii, allows 18- to 20-year-old CDL holders to travel within the state but not outside it. A new bill, though, may remove this restriction if it’s passed. Known as the DRIVE-Safe Act, the bill intends to set up an apprenticeship program before teen truckers head out of the state.
The program would consist of two probationary periods where truckers are required to complete 400 driving hours. A second CDL holder of at least 21 years of age would accompany truckers for a minimum of 240 of those hours. Legislators believe that teen truckers should be allowed to travel interstate if they can already travel hundreds of miles in the same state.
Truck safety groups expressed their concern during a hearing convened by the U.S. Subcommittee on Transportation and Safety. The Owner-Operator Independent Driver Association, for instance, said the bill is founded on the myth of a driver shortage and that by trying to do something about this, it will only compound the issues actually faced in the trucking industry.
The Truck Safety Coalition’s president cited several sources showing that truckers aged 18 to 20 have a significantly higher rate of accidents than other CDL holders. Interstate travel, which puts drivers in contact with unfamiliar roads, may only make the situation worse.
Whatever their age, though, truck drivers can easily be negligent behind the wheel and raise their risk for a crash. They may distract themselves with a phone, fall asleep at the wheel or even drive impaired by drugs or alcohol. The innocent victims in a truck crash can file a personal injury claim in most cases, but they may want a legal evaluation before anything else. With a lawyer, they might strive for a fair amount in compensatory damages.