U.S. Senate Proposes Teen Big Rig Driving Pilot Program

November 8, 2021 – Paul Hammack

South Carolina Personal Injury Lawyers | Hammack Law Firm | Call 864-326-3333

In September 2020, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) filed a federal notice for comments after the U.S. Senate proposed a teen big rig driving pilot program in the nation. This teen driving program would allow people between 18 and 20 years old to operate commercial motor vehicles in interstate commerce.

This program proposal serves as a response to the latest trend of trucking companies claiming to have difficulty finding truckers to transport commercial goods over long distances in the county. The Wall Street Journal noted in its report that drivers younger than 21 years of age already can test for a commercial driver’s license (CDL) and permit but are limited to work within state borders. 

FMCSA Proposed a Similar Pilot Driving Program in 2016

In 2016, the FMCSA proposed a pilot program to allow people under the age of 21 with military experience to operate commercial motor vehicles in interstate commerce (83 FR 31633) due to a study group of military drivers aged 21 to 24 who successfully operated commercial vehicles after receiving proper training and experience. 

This led to the current proposal for teen drivers to operate commercial vehicles even without military experience. 

Trucking Companies Claim They Need Assistance in Getting More Truck Drivers

Trucking companies claim that there is a shortage of truck drivers applying for job positions that involve transporting goods across interstate highways. However, sources in the WSJ’s report noted that the “shortage” is imaginary and that, in actuality, truck driver turnover is the core issue trucking companies face. High turnover rates stem from lower wages and long hours.

With opening the doors for teen drivers to apply for interstate commerce positions, there is no guarantee that trucking companies will resolve their “driver shortage.” However, the chance for younger drivers to get into truck accidents can be high.

Highway Safety Advocates Express Concerns About Teenagers Driving Interstate

Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (AHAS) published a response to the U.S. Senate proposal for the teen big rig driving program, expressing concern over the safety of young drivers having to operate commercial vehicles when fatality rates remain high in accidents involving CDL drivers under 21.

Teen Drivers Have High Accident and Injury Rates

Teenage drivers have a reputation for being careless due to their lack of experience on the road. They are also at risk for injury or death in accidents, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stating that in 2019:

  • 2,400 teenage drivers were killed in vehicle accidents
  • 258,000 teenage drivers suffered serious injuries that required emergency room treatment due to vehicle accidents
  • Teen driver accidents cost up to $4.8 billion in damages in 2018

By allowing people between the ages of 18 and 20 to drive commercial vehicles for interstate commerce, trucking companies may put those drivers at risk for injury or death. Teen drivers may also not be able to work the number of hours it takes to transport goods, which can put their health at risk as well.

Our Law Firm Advocates for Safety on South Carolina’s Roads

At our law firm, we fight for safety on South Carolina’s roads, and we want to help families hold negligent trucking companies accountable. If you or your teenage child got into a truck accident, you might qualify for a personal injury claim or lawsuit. If so, our attorneys can help you by:

  • Investigating your accident to determine who may be held liable for damages
  • Collecting evidence for your case, which may involve requesting information from trucking companies
  • Handling communications between all involved parties, including insurance companies
  • Attending court hearings or settlement meetings on your behalf to reach a settlement or verdict

If you do decide to pursue a lawsuit, you must do so within three years of the date of the accident, per S.C. Ann. § 15-3-530. Our personal injury attorneys will inform you of your case’s filing deadline, then file accordingly so that we may use a lawsuit as leverage when negotiating a settlement for your case.  

We Help Injured Victims of Truck Accidents Pursue Compensation

At Hammack Law Firm, we advocate for car accident victims of all ages in South Carolina. If you or your loved one got into a car accident and suffered injuries and damages, a personal injury lawyer from our firm can build your case and petition for compensation on your behalf. As the proposal from the U.S. Senate for a teen big rig driving pilot program nears, we want to stay prepared for anyone who unfortunately gets hurt.

Call (864) 326-3333 today to receive a free consultation with one of our team members. We want to help you hold liable trucking companies and related parties accountable so that more people in South Carolina can feel safe on the road.

Questions or Schedule An Appointment? Call Us:

(864) 326-3333

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