Washington, DC -- Congressman Duncan Hunter (CA-50) today introduced the DRIVE-Safe Act, geared toward providing economic opportunities for younger truck drivers looking to enter in the workforce.  This bill, officially named the Developing Responsible Individuals for a Vibrant Economy Act, amends federal regulations preventing truck drivers under the age of 21 from crossing state lines.

“Unfortunately, we see many young Americans faced with the choice of either taking on thousands of dollars in college debt or entering into a job market with grim prospects for untrained workers,” said Congressman Hunter.  “My legislation addresses this issue in the trucking industry by allowing qualified drivers under the age of 21 to enter into an intensive vehicle operation and mentor-apprentice training program, allowing them to cross state lines moving freight across the country.  This is a common-sense approach that creates job opportunities for younger workers and provides a vital resource to America’s trucking industry that is critical in supporting our growing domestic economy.”

While most states allow for issuing commercial driver’s licenses at the age of 18, federal law restricts drivers under the age of 21 from crossing state lines.  The DRIVE-Safe Act will remove this regulation for individuals who complete a program consisting of two, sequential probationary periods where an apprentice must complete at least 400 hours of on-duty time with at least 240 hours driving in the accompaniment of an qualified mentor driving professional.

Industry experts are predicting a shortfall in qualified drivers as freight transportation demands grow.  It is for this reason that Congressman Hunter’s legislation has received significant support from the industry, including UPS, the American Trucking Associations (ATA), the International Foodservice Distributors Association (IFDA) and the National Council of Chain Restaurants, a division of the National Retail Federation.

“This legislation paves the way for new drivers to sustain a safe and efficient supply chain for the more than one million restaurants and foodservice outlets in the US,” said Mark Allen, President and CEO of IFDA. “This bill creates opportunity while reinforcing a culture of safety far and above current standards to provide the next generation of drivers with the critical skills they need to operate a truck in the 21st century.”

“This is a common-sense proposal that will open enormous opportunities for the 18-21 year-old population, giving them access to a high-paying profession free of the debt burden comes with a four-year degree,” said ATA President and CEO Chris Spear.  “Moreover, this bill would strengthen training programs beyond current requirements to ensure safety and that drivers are best prepared.”

The DRIVE-Safe Act will be referred to the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, of which Congressman Hunter is a member.