Should the Age Requirement for a CDL be lowered?
There has been a fair amount of discussion in recent months about different things that could be done to curb the subtle decline in truck drivers in the United States. While there are still millions who are choosing this profession as their career path, the American Trucking Associations (ATA) has reported a decline in recent years, and a shortage in the number of people who are entering the field.
One possible solution that has been passed around is the prospect of lowering the age requirement for getting a commercial driver’s license (CDL).
Currently, the age to apply for a CDL is 21. The thinking behind this new train of thought is that, by lowering the age to 18 or 19, it will encourage more young people to consider commercial transit as a potential career path, at a time when they are contemplating which direction their professional life will take.
So will lowering the age requirement raise the number of truckers in the United States?
Before we can make that decision, there are a number of things to consider. First, it is important to note that many states already allow drivers between the ages of 18 and 21 to drive a truck, but only within state’s borders. However, while on the surface that seems to be a fair concession, as any driver knows, there is not a lot that can be done to maintain a career in this field with those particular limits–especially if you live in a small state. As such, asking a person to try to work solely within those parameters for three years is a tall order.
This then brings us back to the main problem with the current age limit of 21. Although there are many people who do not decide what they want to do professionally until this age or later, 18 or 19 is generally the age at which people first start taking steps towards their intended career. As a result, even if becoming a truck driver is something that is considered when they graduate high school, by the time people reach 21, they are already gearing towards a different direction.
One argument against lowering the age limit might be a potential increase in accidents that could happen with more young drivers on the road. However, there is no significant evidence to back up this claim. In fact, if anything, studies have suggested that many of the biggest causes for accidents in teen drivers are a relative non-issue for young truck drivers. Furthermore, most states allow teenagers to drive from as young as 15 or even 14 years old. This means that even if the age limit was lowered to 18, most drivers would still have at least two to three years of driving experience under their belts.
All things considered, even though it is difficult to know for certain whether or not a lower age limit would have any significant impact on the number of truck drivers in the United States, the pros of implementing one far outweigh the cons. A move like this would be a bold step forward for the industry, and would surely have a positive effect that would benefit not only trucking, but the commercial world as a whole.
Alex Marinov is the president of RCG Logistics LLC, with years experience in the shipping and freight industry. His main interest include sustainable building design, video production and automobiles.