New rule for trucking industry allows 18 year old drivers

Published: Jan. 20, 2022 at 8:12 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

TUSCALOOSA, Ala, (WBRC) - A big change for the big rig trucking industry. The federal government is now allowing 18 year old’s to drive an 18-wheeler from state-to-state in a test pilot program. Right now, truckers have to be 21 years old to cross state lines.

The reason behind it all is because the trucking business is short of drivers, some 80,000 drivers short, according to the American Trucking Association.

A fully loaded 18-wheeler can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds and it takes skill such as having situational awareness to operate a heavy vehicle.

Dean Faust is the truck driving coordinator for Trenholm State Community College in Montgomery.

“I would want to see if an 18 year old has a good driving record before I consider hiring them,” said Faust.

Under the test program, an 18 year old can drive state-to-state as long as there is an experienced driver in the passenger seat. After a probationary period, the teens can drive on their own. The measure has the full backing of the American Trucking Association.

“I’ve seen a lot of students come through the class where we really had to stress your awareness looking in mirrors, looking at traffic,” said Faust.

Faust understands the logic behind it all, but worries a typical 18 year old may not have the maturity or the necessary commitment to handle such a huge responsibility.

Companies large and small depend on this mode of transportation.

“I would look at the maturity level. I would look at the training they have and I would definitely look at their MVR, their motor vehicle records,” said Faust.

The average starting pay for a truck driver is around $55,000 a year.

Copyright 2022 WBRC. All rights reserved.