Good Question: To address the truck driver shortage, should we lower the minimum driver age to 18?

Good Question: To address the truck driver shortage, should we lower the minimum driver age to 18?

I agree with lowering the age restriction for getting an interstate CDL to 18. Currently, commercial drivers between 18 and 21 can operate with a CDL as long as they don’t cross state borders. Think about that—a 19 year old can legally operate a commercial rig between Miami and Pensacola, Florida (670 miles apart), but it would be illegal for that same driver to operate between Pensacola and Mobile, Alabama (72 miles apart).
That said, I believe there should be higher standards for CDL drivers in the 18-21 age range, including exclusion from transporting hazardous materials and operating double (or triple) trailers, and reduced Hours-of-Service parameters.

Clayton Peppers
Quality Assurance and Process Improvement Team—Birmingham
Pace Runners, Inc.
Active member, Customized Logistics and Delivery Association

Lowering the age to obtain a CDL would increase the amount of available labor. With current ELD mandates, improved safety training, technology, and higher qualifying standards, this would reduce the current and projected driver shortage, while still ensuring experience and training requirements are met.

Jamie Overley
CEO, East Coast Warehouse

In the UK, you can drive a truck at 18, so it’s obviously appropriate. The U.S. freight industry desperately needs to attract young drivers and, if they have to wait until they are 21, we risk losing them to another industry that has already welcomed them at 18.

Will Salter
CEO, Paragon Software Systems

Lowering the age for getting a CDL to 18 would potentially prompt high schools to teach driving as a vocation and thus enable students to enter the workforce immediately upon graduation similar to other trades. This would eliminate the current three-year gap between graduation and CDL application.

Todd Johnson
SVP Head of Transportation
Kenco Logistics

I’m in favor of any change that promotes young people to the fore. As long as the standards of training and monitoring are rigorous and reliable, increasing the pool of drivers not only relieves pressure on the already-squeezed value chain, but also injects new energy into the aging truck driving profession.

Ben Tyrrell
Head of Global Business Development

Let them do it and give them training! Concern over liability and age considering average incidents involving teens is well founded but neglects the fact that the 18 year olds who get a CDL are self-elected and therefore not equivalent to the statistical averages of their peers.

James Stone
Client Sales Representative
Echo Global Logistics

Eighteen year olds drive trucks and heavy equipment in the military. If they are responsible with a clean driving record and background, it could definitely help.

Paul Kempton
Business Development
Key Accounts LTL
XPO Logistics

Rather than changing policies that were designed for the safety of your company and the public, get aggressive in your recruitment efforts and invest in a streamlined applicant experience. Incorporate technology that speeds up hiring and simplifies the process for your applicants so that you don’t lose highly valuable candidates to a competitor. Once you’ve secured a good hire, invest in their training; a strong onboarding process enhances performance on the job and reduces turnover rates.

Marco Piovesan
CEO, InfoMart

I can land on either side of that debate. On the one hand, I think people between the ages of 18-21 are, in theory, good candidates to be truck drivers because they haven’t grown roots in another career yet. And I think there are plenty of smart and mature 18-year-olds in America. On the other hand, it gives me pause because trucks can be 80,000 pounds of dangerous steel and rubber when in the wrong hands; also I wouldn’t be surprised if insuring 18-year-old truck drivers turns out to be cost prohibitive. More broadly, and as crazy as it sounds, I’m not sure we have a driver shortage at all. I wonder if what we really have is a “utilization problem.” There are 54 billion empty miles driven by trucks in the United States each year. Can we use technology to better match the demand with supply? I think so.

Drew McElroy
CEO, Transfix

We’re closely monitoring the CDL age requirement discussion, as it’s a complex and evolving situation. We must balance the need to address driver shortages while also ensuring road safety remains uncompromised, so we’re continuing to research and monitor the matter.

Jerry Burdine
Manager of Domestic Transportation
BDP International