Support Surges for Bipartisan Plan to Address Truck Driver Shortage
Nearly 70 trade organizations sent a letter Wednesday to the House and Senate in support of the DRIVE-Safe Act, the newly introduced bipartisan bill to help to alleviate the nationwide shortage of commercial drivers by providing younger drivers with the opportunity to enter the industry.
A coalition of 69 industry organizations signed the letters backing the DRIVE-Safe Act, a testament to the surge of industry support since the legislation was introduced. It is cosponsored by a bipartisan group of lawmakers: Senators Todd Young, R-Ind.; Jon Tester, D-Mont.; Tom Cotton, R-Ark.; Angus King, I-Maine; Jim Inhofe, R-Okla.; Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.; and Jerry Moran, R-Kan.; and Representatives Trey Hollingsworth, R-Ind.; Jim Cooper, D-Tenn.; Henry Cuellar, D-Texas; Al Green, D-Texas; Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas; Paul Mitchell, R-Mich.; and Bruce Westerman, R-Ark.
The trade coalition wrote in support of DRIVE-Safe:
“Seventy percent of the nation’s freight is carried by commercial trucks yet as our economy strengthens, motor carriers are having difficulty finding the drivers they need to handle growing capacity. According to a recent estimate, the nation needs an additional 50,000 truck drivers immediately, a shortage that is expected to grow to more than 174,000 by 2026. In many supply chains, companies are being forced to increase prices to account for higher transportation costs. This will ultimately result in higher prices for consumers on everything from electronics to food.
“While 48 states currently allow drivers to obtain a commercial driver’s license at 18, they are prohibited from driving in interstate commerce until they are 21. The DRIVE-Safe Act would create a two-step apprenticeship program to allow these younger drivers to enter the industry safely. Candidates would be accompanied in the cab by experienced drivers for a total of 400 hours of on-duty time with at least 240 hours of driving time.
“Trucks used in the program would be required to be outfitted with the latest safety technology including active braking collision mitigation systems, forward-facing event recording cameras, speed limiters set at 65 miles per hour or less and automatic or automatic manual transmissions.
“The DRIVE-Safe Act will help our nation’s freight continue to move while preserving the safety of our highway system. It will help fill desperately needed jobs and provide younger Americans with the opportunity to enter a profession where they can earn an average of $53,000 with full benefits. We look forward to working with you to enact this important legislation.”
The coalition of nearly 70 trucking industry groups supporting the DRIVE-Safe Act includes the International Foodservice Distributors Association (IFDA), the American Trucking Associations (ATA), National Restaurant Association (NRA), National Retail Federation (NRF), the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), the American Beverage Association (ABA), and UPS.