New Bill Would Allow Teens to Drive Big Rigs Across State Lines: A Risky Move?
Dallas, Texas, 09/29/2015 /SubmitPressRelease123/
Some transportation safety advocates fear the potential consequences of the passage of a measure that would change the age requirements for drivers of 18-wheelers who transport goods across state lines. The highway bill, which would lower the age requirement from 21 to 18 is currently working its way through the Senate.
Source: NPR Report “To Get Big-Rig Drivers, Senate Bill Would Give Keys To Teens”
“Tractor-trailers have 18 wheels. But under current federal law, you can’t be 18 years old and drive one across state lines. You have to be 21. The highway bill working its way through the Senate, though, would change that.”
Fears about this type of change are largely tied to assertions that it would yield an increase in the number of truck accident injuries and fatalities, which are already occurring at alarming rates. Says Jackie Gillan, president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety of the issue “They want to allow 18-, 19- and 20-year-olds to drive big trucks. This is a terrible idea, and it will result in more crashes, more deaths and more injuries.”
This is evidenced according to Gillan by statistics that show 18-year-old drivers have a higher likelihood of becoming involved in motor vehicle accidents. Gillan further states, “Drivers between the ages of 18 to 20 have four to six times higher rates of fatal crashes.”
Even some within the trucking industry suggest the lowered age minimum could pose a threat. Eric Pennucci of Boston based trucking firm Horizon Air Services, is referenced in the NPR article as saying it may not be the safest idea due to trucking business related stress that younger, less experienced drivers may not be able to handle well. Pennucci is quoted as stating “We just wouldn’t do it. Safety means a lot. I’m OK with having to wait till you’re 21 to drive a tractor-trailer.”
Texas truck accident attorney Amy Witherite of the Eberstein Witherite firm holds similar views, stating “there are already congressional moves being made toward reducing limitations for truck drivers that could put many people at risk. Passage of this new measure should require very careful thought and consideration.”
Witherite is in part referencing a bill that would allow truck drivers to travel longer hours during their work weeks, something many say would increase traffic problems related to truck driver fatigue. The Amy Witherite Texas truck accident lawyer says of the matter in a previous article “thousands of injury causing tractor-trailer accidents occur each year and a significant percentage of these are linked to truck driver fatigue.”
Proponents of the new bill say that because some states already allow 18, 19, and 20-year-old drivers to make shorter haul trips within state lines, there would be no stark differences if it is passed. Dave Osiecki, a lead lobbyist for the Washington based American Trucking Associations is quoted by NPR as stating “One of the reasons that ATA supports this idea is because we have today in every state in the United States — at least in the lower 48 — we have 18-, 19-, 20-year-old truck drivers operating in the state.”
Many are awaiting the final outcome to see whether the bill will be approved, and if so, what it will mean for the nation’s road travelers.
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