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Program could lower age for truck drivers to as young as 18

Some experienced drivers call the move “dangerous”
A new pilot program may soon allow drivers as young as 18 years old to get behind the wheel of 18-wheelers, and transport goods across state lines.
Published: Jan. 20, 2022 at 9:55 PM EST
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - A new pilot program may soon allow drivers as young as 18 years old to get behind the wheel of 18-wheelers, and transport goods across state lines.

This will hopefully ease the supply chain problem we’ve been experiencing for months.

But there is pushback to the idea.

Most drivers we talked to Thursday night were not in favor of the new regulation. In fact, some of them called it dangerous.

“I think it’s a bad idea,” Billy Owens said.

Billy Owens is a long-haul truck driver out of Texas with a load of paper products to Concord. He’s heard about the program and isn’t real hot on the idea.

“Leave it to the more experienced guys because we don’t need guys like that hauling hazardous material.” Owens said.

Dwayne Reese thinks the current age restriction of 21 works well and questions the new rule.

“I just can’t see an 18 year old, or anyone that young driving at that age,” Reese said.

This will hopefully ease the supply chain problem we’ve been experiencing for months.

The new rule hopes to combat the estimated 80,000 additional truck drivers that are short in the workforce according to the American Trucking Association.

It will allow younger drivers to drive the rigs across state lines, an age limit that is being lowered from the current age of 21.

There will be extensive training that goes along with the program, and an experienced driver must be with them at all times.

“The more drivers the better,” Ted Fleming said.

Ted Fleming was taking a load up to Granite Falls. He thinks the program has merit.

“If they’re properly trained and pass certification and pass a drug test. I mean there’s plenty of good people out there,” Felming said.

“Absolutely not,” Donna Combs said.

Donna Combs and her husband Vernon both drive a truck for a local company. They actually met when Donna was being trained to drive by her now-husband. They both have strong feelings about the new rule.

“No. I have four children, my youngest son is 20, and there’s no way I’d want him behind the wheel of an 18-wheeler at 18.”

Vernon is worried about the maturity level in such a high-stress job.

“There’s no room for error when you’re doing this. And you don’t realize how quickly things can go bad until you see it,” Vernon said.

A University of Michigan study indicated a 500% increase in injury crashes for truck drivers under 21 compared to truck drivers overall.

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