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Bill that could lead to 18- to 20-year-olds driving interstate commerce reintroduced

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The DRIVE-Safe Act establishes an apprenticeship program that would allow for the legal operation of a commercial motor vehicle in interstate commerce by CDL holders under the age of 21. (The Trucker file photo)

WASHINGTON — Sens. Todd Young and Jon Tester in a bipartisan move on Tuesday reintroduced the Developing Responsible Individuals for a Vibrant Economy (DRIVE-Safe) Act, which the senators said would address the driver shortage in the trucking and logistics industry and enhance safety training and job opportunities for young truckers.

Reps. Trey Hollingsworth and Henry Cuellar introduced a companion bill in the House.

Though many states allow individuals to obtain a commercial driver’s license at the age 18, federal law currently prohibits those operators from moving goods from state to state until they are 21.

The DRIVE-Safe Act establishes an apprenticeship program that would allow for the legal operation of a commercial motor vehicle in interstate commerce by CDL holders under the age of 21.

The apprenticeship training program would help ensure these drivers are trained beyond current standards while instituting rigorous safety standards and performance benchmarks, according to the text of the bills.

Young is a Republican from Indiana, Tester a Democrat from Montana. Hollingsworth is a Republican from Indiana, Cuellar is a Democrat from Texas.

The DRIVE-Safe Act was first introduced in August 2018, during the just-completed Congressional session. It was read twice and referred to the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, but no further action was taken.

Introduction of the legislation drew immediate praise from Chris Spear, president and CEO of the American Trucking Associations, who said the legislation is important to the American economy.

“The strong bipartisan, bicameral support behind this legislation demonstrates how real a threat the driver shortage presents to our nation’s economic security over the long term – and how serious our lawmakers are about addressing it with commonsense solutions,” Spear said. “Given the broad coalition of interests backing this measure, there is growing understanding across the country that the impact of this issue reaches far beyond just trucking and commercial vehicles. It is a strain on the entire supply chain, from the manufacturers and producers on down to retail and the end consumer, who will see higher prices at the store.”

Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association spokesperson Norita Taylor questioned the need for the legislation.

“There is not a shortage of truck drivers, but very high turnover, and the solution is to improve compensation and benefits,” she said Thursday morning.

Later in the day Thursday, OOIDA President and CEO Todd Spencer sent a letter to members of Congress urging them to reject efforts to change the age requirements.

Additionally, the OOIDA Foundation recently published two new documents it says debunks the driver shortage “myth.”

The Truckload Carriers Association said it supports all efforts to gather information and actionable evidence on the safety implications of incorporating 18-20-year old driver into the interstate truck driving labor force.

“Data-driven decision making should be the bedrock of any sound policy,” said David Heller, TCA’s vice president of government affairs.

ATA is a member of the DRIVE Safe Act Coalition, co-led by ATA and the International Foodservice Distributors of America, and includes the National Association of Manufacturers, National Restaurant Association, National Retail Federation, Retail Industry Leaders of America and more than 40 other national trade associations and companies.

While 48 states permit individuals to obtain a commercial driver’s license and drive trucks at age 18, federal regulations prevent those drivers from crossing state lines until they turn 21.

“This restriction bars a vital population of job seekers from interstate trucking, exacerbating the driver shortage, as qualified candidates are lost to other industries,” Spear said. “The DRIVE Safe Act would allow certified CDL holders already permitted to drive intrastate the opportunity to participate in a rigorous apprenticeship program designed to help them master interstate driving, while also promoting enhanced safety training for emerging members of the workforce.”

The ATA said the DRIVE Safe Act would help train younger drivers far and above current standards. Under the legislation, once a driver has met the requirements to obtain a CDL, they would begin a two-step program of additional training that includes a number of performance benchmarks each candidate must demonstrate competency in. In addition, they would be required to complete at least 400 hours of on-duty time and 240 hours of driving time with an experienced driver in the cab with them. All trucks used for training in the program must be equipped with NTSB-endorsed safety technology including active braking collision mitigation systems, forward-facing video event capture and a speed governor set at 65 miles per hour.

Significantly, the ATA said, all of these post-CDL training, safety, and technology standards under the DRIVE Safe Act would be required on top of all the pre-CDL training benchmarks that new drivers will be required to satisfy when the Entry Level Driver Training Rule goes in to effect in February 2020, which includes 59 different topics of knowledge and behind-the-wheel training for Class A CDL applicants.

In his letter to Congress, Spencer said younger drivers, especially teens, generally lack the maturity and experience to operate a commercial motor vehicle the safest levels.

“Research consistently concludes that CMV drivers under the age of 21 are more likely to be involved in crashes,” Spencer wrote. “In some states, teenagers entering the apprentice program created by the legislation would have only recently received a full driver’s license to operate an automobile, let alone a CMV. While these clear safety implications alone should dissuade elected officials from lowering minimum age requirements, professional drivers understand there are long-standing problems within the trucking industry that such a change would only worsen.”

Rather than developing legislation to allow more teenagers behind the wheel of 80,000 pound trucks, Congress should be taking steps to reverse the incessantly high driver turnover rate, which remains above 90 percent among large truckload carriers, Spencer said.

“Though allowing CDL holders under the age of 21 to engage in interstate commerceis unlikely to reduce driver turnover or improve safety, we appreciate the DRIVE-SafeAct’s approach to robust new entrant training. Aspects of the minimum standards included in the legislation, especially 240 hours of mandatory behind-the-wheel experience, are a good starting point for enhancing federal training requirements for current entry-level drivers, regardless of age,” he said.

Click here to read a DRIVE Safe myth vs. fact document published by ATA.

Click here to read the text of the bill.

 

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Robert

    March 1, 2019 at 6:06 am

    Don’t we already have enough inadequate drivers already? Now they wanna give a kid the keys to a 80k death rocket. I can see the death toll on our interstates rising greatly if this passes. They don’t require enough training now for the driver mill. The inadequate training these drivers receive should be up discussion not hiring kids to drive trucks. Takes a special kind of person to be a truck driver. I don’t believe kids fresh out of High School is the answer for our country’s driver shortage. Better pay, and better treatment to PROFESSIONAL DRIVERS is the answer!!!!

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The Nation

Love’s, its customers raise more than $3.75 million for children’s hospitals

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Love’s showed additional support for CMN Hospitals on National Coffee Day, which took place September 29-30 during the store campaign. To honor the day, all hot beverages were discounted to $1, with sales going to CMN Hospitals. (Courtesy: LOVE'S)

OKLAHOMA CITY — Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores and its customers raised more than $3.75 million for sick and injured children through its five-week store campaign to raise funds for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. In the 20th year of the campaign, the company surpassed its goal of $3.6 million and set a company record for the most money raised during a campaign.

“We are so thankful to our employees and customers who not only donate at our stores, but who also go out of their way to raise money for sick and injured children in creative ways,” said Jenny Love Meyer, vice president of communications for Love’s. “Each year, we enjoy seeing communities come together for this effort and we couldn’t be prouder to have raised over $3.75 million for this year’s campaign.”

From August 26-September 30, customers could purchase Miracle Balloons, round up to the nearest dollar at registers or pumps or participate in events like 5k runs or fishing tournaments to donate money to CMN Hospitals.

Love’s showed additional support for CMN Hospitals on National Coffee Day, which took place September 29-30 during the store campaign. To honor the day, all hot beverages were discounted to $1, with sales going to CMN Hospitals.

“We are excited about the results of this year’s Love’s fundraising campaign,” said John Lauck, president and CEO of CMN Hospitals. “Not only did 2019 mark a 20-year milestone of partnership between Love’s and CMN Hospitals but more exciting, Love’s also crossed $31 million in donations to help sick and injured children treated in our hospitals across the U.S.”

Of the 170 CMN Hospitals throughout North America, 107 benefit from Love’s annual campaign.

 

 

 

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The Nation

Average price of gallon of diesel increase half a cent

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The price for the week ending October 14 was 34.3 cents lower than the comparable week in 2018. (The Trucker file photo)

WASHINGTON — The average price of a gallon of on-highway diesel increase four tenths of one cent to $3.051 for the week ending October 14, according to the Energy Information Administration of the Department of Energy.

Normally posted on Monday of each week, the average price chart was released Tuesday because the federal government was closed Monday for the Columbus Day holiday.

All but two regions of the country posted increases led by a 1.9 cent increase in the Rocky Mountain states (Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah and Colorado).

The New England states (Maine, Vermont, Hew Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts) was the only region showing a decline at five tenths of one cent.

The price for the week ending October 14 was 34.3 cents lower than the comparable week in 2018.

 

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DeFazio asks IG to investigate reports of Chao’s conflicts of interest

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In requesting an investigation of Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, Rep. Peter DeFazio cites newly-obtained information from a recent media report that suggested Chao used her office to give preferential treatment to organizations and projects in Kentucky where her husband, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is currently seeking re-election. (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

WASHINGTON — The chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is requesting an investigation into Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao and her reported conflicts of interest.

Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., made the request in a letter to Department of Transportation Inspector General Calvin L. Scovel III.

The letter, sent October 11, cites newly-obtained information from a recent media report that suggested Chao used her office to give preferential treatment to organizations and projects in Kentucky where her husband, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is currently seeking re-election.

Politico reported that 25% of Secretary Chao’s meetings with local officials between January 2017 and March 2018 were with individuals from Kentucky.

DeFazio said the report noted that requests for meetings with Chao are typically forwarded from McConnell’s office to Chao’s chief of staff, who previously worked on McConnell’s Senate campaign, DeFazio wrote.

The Office of the Secretary of Transportation took exception to DeFazio efforts.

DeFazio said the Politico report followed an earlier report that Chao had asked her chief of staff to serve as an intermediary between her office and McConnell’s office, and that he had helped advise the senator and local Kentucky officials on federal grants of particular significance to McConnell.

“These allegations were first raised by left wing advocacy groups and hashed out in the media, and the department has previously fully responded to them. They are politically motivated and intended to waste time. While the Department will always be cooperative and responsive to appropriate requests, DOT looks forward to a prompt and final resolution of these questions,” a DOT spokesman told The Trucker Tuesday.

“Allegations included the steering of discretionary grants to fund these projects,” DeFazio wrote.  “I would expect Secretary Chao to meet with individuals from her home state more regularly than other states, but the sheer volume of meetings with local officials from Kentucky when compared to meetings with local officials from the rest of the country creates an appearance of favoritism that is troubling.  Even more troubling is the fact that McConnell’s campaign touted the Politico article on social media saying, ‘Mitch McConnell is a Kentucky Asset.’”

DeFazio said news reports have also raised questions about Chao’s adherence to her federal ethics agreement in which she agreed to divest certain assets to prevent her personal finances from creating conflicts of interest.

In particular, it has been reported that the secretary retained stock in Vulcan Materials, a stone and asphalt producer, as opposed to accepting a cash payment for her stock options in the company, as provided for in her ethics agreement.

 

 

 

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