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Truckers under 21 may start interstate travel if new bill passes

Illinois residents should know that the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Transportation and Safety held a hearing in February 2020 regarding a bill that could cause a significant change in the trucking industry. Known as the DRIVE-Safe Act, the bipartisan bill proposes to allow interstate travel to truckers under the age of 21. Currently, all states except Hawaii allow drivers as young as 18 to obtain a CMV license for intrastate travel.

The bill, if passed, would institute a probationary period where truckers under 21 would have to complete 400 hours of driving before traveling interstate. Of these, 240 hours would need to be accompanied by a driver 21 or older. Still, the bill has met with opposition from truck safety groups like the Truck Safety Coalition and Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.

One objection is that the perceived driver shortage that has given impetus to the bill does not exist. Another is that according to data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, truckers between the ages of 18 and 20 see a higher accident rate than other truckers. Sending them into other states where the routes are unfamiliar can worsen the situation.

The hearing addressed other issues relating to the trucking industry. These included hours-of-service regulations, truck parking and the use of speed limiters.

Regardless of their level of experience, truckers can choose to act negligently. For instance, they may exceed the HOS regulations, overwork themselves and become drowsy as a result. Or, they may drive drunk or use their phone behind the wheel. Those who want to pursue a personal injury case against a negligent trucker or trucking company may want legal assistance. A lawyer might bring in investigators and other third parties to gather proof of the defendant's negligence before proceeding to negotiations.

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