(WASHINGTON) – The following is a statement from Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa about a proposed federal pilot program that would allow drivers as young as 18 to transport goods via trucks in interstate commerce.
“The decision by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to propose a pilot program that would lower the commercial driver’s license restriction from 21 to 18 is of grave concern to those who use the roadways as their workplace every day.
“During the last highway bill, the FAST Act, Congress dictated how FMCSA could approach this topic. FMCSA was told it could do so in a highly controlled manner using only veterans and other members of the military who had experience driving during their time in the service. That safeguard was an important step towards counter-acting the enormous safety risks inherent with having teenagers running tractor trailers across long distances. Ignoring that decision and unilaterally deciding to explore a much broader pilot program represents a dismissive wave of the hand to the will of Congress.
“This program is also being discussed under the auspices of easing a driver shortage that mainly plagues one subset of the trucking industry. Instead of discussing the rampant turnover that part of industry faces, or the low pay and tough working conditions those drivers endure, we are disappointed to see the agency only focus on how they can get more drivers into these jobs with no suggestions of how to improve the quality of the work while they are there. Younger drivers should not be expected to tolerate substandard working conditions any more than their older counterparts. Asking them to do so while also potentially jeopardizing the safety of all road users only makes this decision more troubling.”
Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Visit www.teamster.org for more information. Follow us on Twitter @Teamsters and “like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/teamsters.