During a recent appearance before the subcommittee on Highways and Transit of the House of Representatives Transportation Committee, Raymond Martinez, the administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration appeared to be generally supportive of the idea of at least exploring the idea of allowing drivers 18 to 21 to cross state lines in a truck.
When pressed on his reasons for thinking the age limit should be lowered from 21 to 18, Martinez said, “I would say that those who are in that population who had a CDL are probably safer than the general population, but it is the general population that is disproportionally involved in crashes and fatalities.”
Martinez also talked about implementing part of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation act, the so-called FAST act which allows an easier passage for a military veteran with truck driving experience to become fully qualified to drive back in the U.S. with fewer hurdles than if he or she was starting the process from scratch. Martinez said in his prepared testimony that the program allows states “to waive the skills test for military personnel with experience operating heavy vehicles in the military, allowing certain military personnel to simply ‘exchange’ their military vehicle license for a CDL.
Later Martinez again talked about the military program and mentioned several other initiatives: bringing young drivers on as intrastate drivers and training them continuously, and “encouraging them that…they could spend a lifetime in a good career.”
Over all the emphasis continued to be on finding solutions to the shortage of drivers that only seems to be getting worse. Allowing younger aged drivers to cross state lines and making it easier for veterans to enter the workforce are a good start. One thing Martinez was clear on several times: there is a driver shortage, a term he used several times.