Delivering for Best-in-Class Wholesaler-Distributors
July 6, 2020


Many NAW members are heavily dependent on trucks and highways to move their products throughout the country.  However, the U.S. is currently experiencing a massive shortage of trained drivers.  According to the American Trucking Association, the U.S. experienced a shortfall of 50,000 driving jobs in 2017, a number that could balloon to 174,000 by 2026.  Unless Congress quickly addresses this problem, the recent economic gains the nation has experienced could stall and hamper the pathway to long-term economic stability.

At this time 48 states permit the issuing of commercial drivers’ licenses to 18 year-old drivers for intra-state commerce. However, current federal regulations require drivers in interstate commerce to be at least 21 years of age.  This means a 20-year old driver in El Paso can drive across the entire state of Texas, but can’t make the 30 mile trip into New Mexico.

One legislative solution to bringing younger drivers into the trucking profession is S. 569, the Developing Responsible Individuals for a Vibrant Economy Act, also called the “DRIVE-Safe Act”. This legislation would allow employers to provide CDL holders below the age of 21 with an extensive apprenticeship program that will prepare them to be able to drive in interstate commerce.  Companion legislation has been introduced in the Senate as H.R. 1374.

The program consists of two sequential probationary periods where the apprentice is accompanied by an experienced driver, in which an apprentice must, in total, complete at least 400 hours of on-duty time with at least 240 hours driving. Additionally, both periods can only be completed after certain performance benchmarks are adequately achieved by apprentices to the satisfaction of the employer.

NAW has actively been working with the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, as well as with allied trade associations, to urge Congress to support and pass this important legislation.

Additionally, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requested regulatory comments on creating a pilot program to allow drivers under the age of 21 to operate commercial motor vehicles in interstate commerce.  NAW filed comments to this request and urged FMCSA to use the DRIVE-Safe Act as a guideline on the potential pilot program.  Click here to read our comments.