U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) joined U.S. Senators Todd Young (R-Ind.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) today in reintroducing the Developing Responsible Individuals for a Vibrant Economy (DRIVE-Safe) Act to address the driver shortage in the trucking and logistics industry, and enhance safety training and job opportunities for young truckers. U.S. Senators Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Angus King (I-Maine), Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) also joined as cosponsors of the bill.
“Hoosiers know Indiana as the Crossroads of America thanks to our strong infrastructure network and the numerous logistics providers that call Indiana home. We understand more than anyone the need to develop a responsible pathway to safely train more drivers,” said Senator Young. “This apprenticeship program will address the driver shortage, create new career opportunities for young Hoosiers, and substantially raise training standards to ensure safety on the roads.”
Though many states allow individuals to obtain a commercial driver’s license at the age 18, federal law currently prohibits those operators from moving goods from state to state until they are 21. The DRIVE-Safe Act establishes an apprenticeship program that would allow for the legal operation of a commercial motor vehicle in interstate commerce by CDL holders under the age of 21. The apprenticeship training program would help ensure these drivers are trained beyond current standards while instituting rigorous safety standards and performance benchmarks.
“I am glad to join Sen. Young in cosponsoring the DRIVE-Safe Act,” said Senator Inhofe. “As home to three inland ports, nearly 4,000 miles of rail and over 12,000 miles of highways, Oklahoma is rightfully recognized as and benefits from being one of the nation’s leading transportation hubs and America’s Corner. Expanding the opportunity for all commercial license holders to engage in interstate commerce gives us the ability to meaningfully address the driver shortage while improving transportation safety and give younger Americans the ability to be competitive in a strong economy so they can fully benefit from a skilled career.”
“The Oklahoma Trucking Association appreciates Senator Inhofe’s leadership on this important issue,” said Jim Newport, CEO of the Oklahoma Trucking Association. “The DRIVE-Safe Act would have a tremendous impact on our ability to recruit, train and retain young people into our rapidly growing industry and we look forward to working with Senator Inhofe to see it enacted into law.”
“Providing this workforce development opportunity for young drivers will lead to more comprehensive training, expanded career options and access to higher paying jobs,” said Senator Tester. “This bipartisan bill will also provide a big boost to Montana communities that rely almost exclusively on trucks to move goods in and out of the state.”
“Tens of thousands of commercial trucking jobs go unfilled each year across the United States. To make that problem worse, current regulations prevent younger drivers from participating in interstate trucking at all, denying them the opportunity for good-paying jobs. The DRIVE-Safe Act tackles both problems by allowing drivers under the age of 21 to pursue this career, as long as their employer adopts an apprenticeship program that includes rigorous training and safety standards,” said Senator Cotton.
“By creating an apprenticeship program that works across state lines, we can enhance the skills of our workforce, allow young Americans to get a jumpstart on their career, and help them to be safer drivers while doing so,” said Senator King. “It’s a commonsense solution to a bureaucratic challenge, which helps workers, consumers, and drivers – an all-around win.”
“This apprenticeship program shows strong initiative in creating pathways to stable jobs for West Virginians and addresses workforce shortages, while giving young members of our communities a way to support themselves and contribute to the economy in a positive way. Allowing all drivers with Commercial Driver’s Licenses to cross state lines through apprenticeships in order to become responsible, competent drivers while gaining valuable experience is a step in the right direction. I am proud to cosponsor this legislation,” said Senator Manchin.
“With two of the largest highways in the country crossing through our state, Kansas provides a significant network of safe and reliable routes that connect our nation’s markets and population,” said Senator Moran. “However, there is no denying we have a truck driver shortage that could significantly impact our economy and the way Kansans do business. The DRIVE-Safe Act would help curb the truck driver shortage and provide young Kansans new career opportunities by establishing an apprenticeship program. I am pleased this program includes rigorous safety standards and performance benchmarks to make certain our roads remain safe, while continuing to deliver commodities across Kansans and the country.”
The apprenticeship program established by the DRIVE-Safe Act would require young drivers to complete at least 400 hours of on-duty time and 240 hours of driving time with an experienced driver in the cab with them. All trucks used for training in the program must be equipped with safety technology including active braking collision mitigation systems, a video event capture system, and a speed governor set at 65 miles per hour or below.
U.S. Representative Trey Hollingsworth (R-IN-09) introduced a companion bill in the House.
“Indiana is the ‘Crossroads of America’ and a national hub of transportation and logistics that keeps our economy going,” said Representative Trey Hollingsworth. “The current driver shortage puts our dynamic economy at risk and closes off high-paying trucking careers to young Americans. The DRIVE-Safe Act is an opportunity to improve the lives of many young Americans, give them opportunities for advancement, increase safety and skills training, and enhance the economy by eliminating the obstacles currently preventing the trucking industry from alleviating its workforce shortage.
Click here to view the bill text.