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Bill to let truckers under 21 travel interstate raises concerns

The Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Transportation and Safety held a hearing about a certain bill that, if passed, could significantly change the trucking industry in Texas across the U.S. The DRIVE-Safe Act was introduced in February 2019 and proposes to let truckers under 21 travel not only intrastate but also interstate.

The bill would set up a probationary period before those truckers aged 18 to 20 begin to travel interstate. During this period, they would have to drive a total of 400 hours with at least 240 of those hours accompanied by a CDL holder who is 21 or older. The logic behind the bill is that if teen CDL holders can drive hundreds of miles within the same state, they should be allowed to drive less than that in crossing into another state.

Legislators are also trying to address the shortage of CMV drivers, though according to a spokesman for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, the shortage is a myth. One of the concerns brought up during the hearing was that CMV drivers between the ages of 18 and 20 see a higher crash rate than others. Traveling to an unfamiliar state presents difficulties and can wind up raising that rate. Others, such as the president of the American Trucking Associations, support the bill, calling it responsible.

Proposals like this do not change the fact, of course, that truck driver negligence can be a factor in crashes. Younger truck drivers may be more prone to certain forms of negligence, but no one is immune from drowsy driving or distracted driving, for example. As for the victims of a truck crash, they may find themselves dealing with catastrophic injuries and will likely want the maximum amount in compensatory damages. A lawyer might be able to assist with the filing of a claim.

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