Economic conditions have led to an increased demand for truck drivers in California to help alleviate supply chain limitations. One of the U.S. government’s changes intended to benefit the economy was to make it possible for commercial drivers as young as 18 years old to take long-haul trips. This is controversial because of the higher risk of accidents that younger drivers create.
Teen truckers, coast to coast
Historically, drivers needed to be 21 years old in order to do long-haul trips. A new executive order makes it possible for drivers who are 18 to make a long trip if they have accumulated 400 duty hours as a driver. This is meant to help with the retention and labor issues in the trucking industry, but it also means that the drivers on the road will be less experienced.
It’s not just about time on the road: Younger drivers also have brains that are less developed. Drivers who are under 21 are four times more likely to get into an accident than drivers who are 21 or older. Moreover, truck accidents are much more devastating than car accidents. The size and mass of trucks mean that their accidents generate much more energy than cars, which makes them more dangerous.
The risks of a truck accident are high, and although it might help get the economy moving again and alleviate issues with the supply chain, this new executive order is also likely to lead to more truck accidents. This is a difficult tradeoff that could have a serious impact on people who experience an accident on the road at the hands of a teenage commercial truck driver.