The Biden Administration wants to help alleviate the supply chain delivery problem for American businesses by authorizing first-class commercial drivers licenses for 18-year-old applicants to add more driver availability. The reasoning behind this is that one of the primary reasons for the disruption is a shortage of drivers due to retirement and new insurance requirements for older drivers. Many traditional long-haul drivers have taken positions that have them closer to home with daytime turnaround routes. However, many safety advocate groups in West Virginia and around the country are not impressed with the decision to allow younger commercial truck drivers.
Increasing highway hazards
The first complaint lodged by groups like the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is that the authorization could result in more dangerous highways throughout the nation. Many semi-truck and 18-wheeler accident injuries are the results of behavior from drivers who lack the experience to handle high-weight commercial vehicles. When coupled with the fact that driver rest rules were relaxed under the Trump Administration, this could further enhance hazardous traffic conditions in the highway system.
Reluctance to hire
Another issue is shipping company reluctance to hire inexperienced drivers. One situation these companies want to avoid is expensive personal injury claims from the increased numbers of commercial vehicle accidents that theoretically will occur. Additionally, hiring young drivers impacts company bottom lines because of increased insurance rates.
The mere fact that younger drivers would put more commercial drivers license holders in the employment market does not automatically improve the delivery problem. There are more dynamics at play than simply allowing for more drivers, and safety advocates want to emphasize the need for a more comprehensive and robust plan to improve the breakdown in the supply chain for all industries.