After the U.S. House of Representative passed a six-year highway funding bill, marking a victory for newly elected House Speaker Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), provisions in the bill could allow for 18 year olds to take the wheel of big rigs.
This provision is in both the House and Senate versions of this funding bill. The provision would start a pilot program to allow teenagers, those 18 and older, to begin driving large trucks across the country. The current minimum age to drive these trucks is 21. Safety groups within the industry warn that by lowering the age of big rig drivers, America’s roads will be more prone to danger. Many studies indicate that young drivers have a higher percentage of crash rates. Safety groups say that the industry is ignoring important data simply to fill in for the shortage of drivers that the industry is currently facing.
Meanwhile, trucking groups say that lowering the age will allow for new drivers to be better prepared on the road.
The newly passed $350 billion bill, covers highway spending for the next six years and will allow for funding for longstanding infrastructure projects that have needed repair. The Senate has to pass its own version of the bill and have it delivered to President Obama by the Dec. 4 deadline.
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