Alabama, like every state except Hawaii, allows 18- to 20-year-old CDL holders to drive only within the state. The restriction on interstate travel may soon be lifted, though, if a certain bill is passed. Known as the DRIVE-Safe Act, the bipartisan bill was introduced in February 2019 and proposes to let truckers under 21 travel interstate after passing an apprenticeship program.
As part of this program, truck drivers would complete probationary periods of 400 driving hours, at least 240 of which would be accompanied by a fellow trucker 21 or older. The logic behind the legislation is that if teen truckers can drive hundreds of miles within the same state, they should be allowed to travel a similar, or even shorter, distance interstate. Some groups object to the bill, though.
The Truck Safety Coalition, for instance, has presented several sources showing how teen truckers see a higher crash rate than other truckers. The coalition’s president says that truckers under 21, being inexperienced, may have a hard time adjusting to travel in unfamiliar states and that this will only wind up raising crash rates.
The Owner-Operator Independent Driver Association opposes the bill because it will only compound problems in the trucking industry. The reason, according to the OOIDA, is that the bill is fighting a mythical driver shortage.
There is no doubt that younger truckers are more liable to cause truck accidents, but anyone, regardless of age, can choose to be negligent and speed, for example, or drive drowsy. Those who are injured in a crash at the hands of a negligent truck driver may have grounds for a claim against the trucking company, so they might want to have a lawyer evaluate the case. If retained, the lawyer may assist with negotiations and other crucial steps.