New Jersey residents may not know this, but someone as young as 18 years old can obtain a commercial driver’s license; however, they can only travel within the state until they turn 21. Back in 2019, though, a bill was proposed that would allow even truckers under 21 to drive interstate. The DRIVE-Safe Act, as it is called, has generated much controversy.
In February 2020, the Senate Commerce Transportation and Safety Subcommittee held a hearing on various trucking-related issues, and this bill was among the most prominent. While the bill has the support of groups like the American Trucking Association, others object to it. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association contends, for example, that the justification for the bill has no grounding in reality: namely, there being no shortage of truck drivers.
The president of the Truck Safety Coalition brought up an even more salient point. Truckers aged 18 to 20 run a much higher risk for accidents than do other CDL holders, and letting them travel in the unfamiliar terrain of other states is to invite more trouble. However, the bill does lay out that truckers under 21 would join an apprenticeship program where they complete 400 hours of driving, most of it supervised, before initiating interstate travel.
Truckers who are driving as part of a probationary period pose a legal challenge. What’s clear, though, is that truckers who cause a crash through their own fault can open the way for a personal injury case against their trucking company, provided that they are not independent contractors. It may be that the trucking company itself is at fault by not adequately training its employees. Whatever the nature of the case, victims may want legal guidance.