“We think it’s irresponsible to put young drivers behind the wheel of a truck in order to avoid addressing the real problems of high turnover,” said Todd Spencer, acting president of OOIDA.
GRAIN VALLEY, Mo. — The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) has signed a letter along with other industry stakeholders in opposition to proposals to lower the age requirement for obtaining an interstate CDL.
The letter was sent to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and was also signed by a long list of diverse groups.
An opening statement in the letter said, “As the nation’s leading organizations and associations representing public health, consumers, safety and American truckers, we are certain these efforts would not only be detrimental to road safety, but also to those seeking to enter the trucking industry as professional drivers.”
The groups are opposed to two specific legislative proposals which would allow younger drivers to operate large trucks.
The bills are H.R. 5358, the Developing Responsible Individuals for a Vibrant Economy (DRIVE-Safe) Act and H.R. 3889, the Waiving Hindrances to Economic Enterprise and Labor (WHEEL) Act.
Among other concerns, the letter says intrastate CMV drivers under the age of 19 are four times more likely to be involved in fatal crashes, and CMV drivers who are 19-20 years of age are six times more likely to be involved in fatal crashes.
“We think it’s irresponsible to put young drivers behind the wheel of a truck in order to avoid addressing the real problems of high turnover,” said Todd Spencer, acting president of OOIDA. “The focus should instead be on fixing the staggering turnover rate with better pay and working conditions.”
The letter brings up a previous failed attempt to lower the age to 18 in the year 2001.
“This has been tried before and no one with any common sense thought it was a good idea,” Spencer said. “Nothing has changed since that time and no disruptions have ever taken place due to any perceived shortage of drivers. These latest efforts are just more ways to keep driver churn going and keep wages as low as possible.”
OOIDA is the trade association representing the interests of small-business trucking professionals and professional truck drivers. The association currently has more than 160,000 members nationwide. OOIDA was established in 1973 and is headquartered in the greater Kansas City, Missouri, area.
Dorothy Cox is former assistant editor – now retired – of The Trucker, and a 20-plus-year trucking journalism veteran. She holds a bachelor’s degree in fine arts and a master’s degree in divinity. Cox has been in journalism since 1972. She has won awards for her writing in both mainstream and trucking journalism.