It is no secret that the shipping industry is having problems in the current economic climate. Many drivers are apprehensive regarding demands of the current administration and have reconsidered employment in the transportation industry. This particularly applies to truck drivers who are looking to change their careers after building many years of experience. For a variety of reasons, the number of certified drivers in the employment market is dwindling, and Congress has decided to implement a policy that allows 18-year old drivers to get behind the wheel of a commercial tractor-trailer. As this is a federal action, the authorization includes the state of California.
The driver dilemma
There is assuredly a shortage of qualified professional drivers in the transportation industry, This issue could also be the most important manpower concern in the nation. America does not function without timely product delivery. However, there are many safety advocate groups in the United States who think this is a bad decision because statistics say it could lead to a significant increase in trucking accidents.
Another issue with this authorization is the reluctance of transportation industry employers to hire drivers who are not at least 26 years old. Insurance rates reduce considerably for those 26 years or older with a good driving record, and all trucking companies view commercial insurance as a major operational expense. Most drivers under age 26 will not own their own rigs as well, which means the employer could be liable completely in the event of any truck mishaps. They could also be vicariously liable even when the driver owns their own rig.
While the move by Congress looks like a positive policy shift by the numbers, the long-range forecast for solving the driver shortage problem may not be effective. If it leads to an increase in the number of truck accidents, the critics could actually be correct.