While there’s already been a massive shortage of truck drivers in our country, the pandemic has only escalated the problem. It also put a spotlight on the matter, as supply chain challenges are causing significant delays and combined with an increase in demand are looming to impact the everyday lives of all, not only company drivers.

So, what does Drive Safe Act have to do with it and what is it going to do for the country? How is it going to impact our work? We’re glad you asked. Let’s dive into it.

What is the purpose of the DRIVE Safe Act?

DRIVE Safe Act is a bill, signed into law last November, that will answer the country’s substantial truck driver shortage. It was introduced by a bipartisan group of legislators and supported by over 100 companies and trade associations, among which are the American Trucking Associations (ATA) and IFDA. This kind of speaks volumes about the importance of it.

Drive Safe Act Work PurposeSource: Unsplash

That’s great, but what exactly does it regulate?

DRIVE Safe Act is speaking directly to the supply chain challenges and shortage of truck drivers across the country by changing the law and allowing truck drivers below age 21 operating commercial vehicles to cross state borders. Hopefully, this will make hiring OTR drivers much easier. Before DRIVE Safe Act, truck drivers younger than 21 were allowed to only operate within state borders. The Act has moved the age limit to 18. 

RegulatingSource: Freepik

How are they going to do that?

To assure safety for all involved, the concept behind the Act is not to only change the age limit, but have an apprenticeship program, which may last up to three years, that would only allow young drivers to cross state borders after getting additional training. They would have to complete 400 hours of on-duty time with an experienced truck driver. These 400 hours must include 240 hours of driving time. The candidates are only allowed to drive trucks with the latest safety features. The very name of the Act pointed in this direction since DRIVE in DRIVE Safe Act stands for “Developing Responsible Individuals for a Vibrant Economy Act”.

What is the desired impact?

The Act will enable current young drivers to receive additional safety training to prepare for long-haul drives and jump-start their careers. The drivers who already operate on the in-state routes will be included in interstate commerce. This type of trucking is in the highest demand, so that’s where new drivers are needed the most.

Drive Safe Act - What is the desired impactSource: Freepik

This leads to the next significant impact, which is solving existing supply chain problems, and last, but not least, it is expected to reduce truck drivers’ shortage and attract a higher number of young drivers in the long run.

The obvious criticism comes from safety concerns, that are statistically legitimate, yet can be discussed, since there has never been an apprenticeship program on the scale of the upcoming DRIVE Safe ACT pilot. Younger people are more likely to disregard road safety tips, but will this program be able to change that?

Drive Safe Act Desired ImpactSource: Freepik

Ideally, this program is going to improve supply chain conditions and significantly reduce the pressure on our industry caused by truckers’ shortage. To what extent it succeeds, only time will tell. Until then, we can do our best from our side and support our colleagues and industry to the best of our ability. 

What are your thoughts on DRIVE Safe Act? Is it going to bring some good changes to the industry?

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Fleet Manager & Recruiter at Extra Mile International | + posts

Mia is a Fleet Manager and Recruiter at Extra Mile International, based in Chicago. Mia is over 5 years in the trucking industry while driving trucks for more than 3 years.