- Three senators introduced legislation Thursday called the DRIVE-Safe Act, in an effort to address the nationwide truck driver shortage by allowing drivers over 18 but under 21 to cross state lines after going through a training program.
- The Senate legislation is a companion bill to one introduced in the House in March by Republican Congressmen Duncan Hunter, Calif., and Trey Hollingsworth, Ind. The House legislation has 71 cosponsors, including 66 Republicans and five Democrats.
- The International Foodservice Distributors Association (IFDA) supports the bill, saying it will allow "new drivers to sustain a safe and efficient supply chain for the more than one million restaurants and foodservice outlets in the U.S.," Mark Allen, President and CEO of IFDA, said in a press release provided to Supply Chain Dive.
Any movement toward improving driver shortage problems in the trucking industry is welcome news for shippers struggling to find the capacity needed to move their goods.
A wide array of factors have contributed to the truck driver shortage, including an aging workforce without young talent to fill the pipeline. The DRIVE-Safe Act targets young drivers who could help to skew down the average truck driver age of 55.
The three Republican senators introducing the bill — Todd Young of Indiana, Jerry Moran of Kansas and James Inhofe of Oklahoma — have a vested interest in freight growth and solving trucking capacity problems in their Midwestern states.
Sen. Young called Indiana the "Crossroads of America," and Sen. Inhofe highlighted Oklahoma's role as a leading transportation hub with its three inland ports, 4,000 miles of rail and 12,000 miles of highway.
The food industry has been disproportionally affected by trucker shortages, according to IFDA. Food suppliers and retailers, like many other industries, have seen high trucking costs hit their profit margins. For food in particular, delays due to trucking capacity problems can be detrimental to shippers transporting perishable goods and render an entire shipment useless.
Indiana is the #CrossroadsOfAmerica & the truck driver shortage has a significant impact on our state. That’s why I intro’d a bill to help address the shortage, enhance safety, & create new career opportunities for young Hoosiers. https://t.co/rQReZVzbNh— Senator Todd Young (@SenToddYoung) August 16, 2018
It remains to be seen, however, whether the DRIVE-Safe Act will pass in either the House or Senate and what impact it may have.
Sentiment toward the legislation appears to be largely divided along party lines. Both bills were introduced by groups of Republican senators, and the majority of cosponsors that have signed on to the House version are of the same party.
If it does pass, the act may help 18 to 21 year olds expand the routes they can drive, thus reducing the capacity crunch for interstate commerce. But it's unclear whether the legislation would be able to recruit more drivers into the industry. In 2013, only about 5% of the truck driver workforce was 24 years or younger, according to data from the American Transportation Research Institute.