Senators introduce legislation that could address truck driver shortage, local trucking company weary of proposal

NOW: Senators introduce legislation that could address truck driver shortage, local trucking company weary of proposal

SOUTH BEND, Ind. – Legislators say a bill introduced in the U.S. Senate will address the driver shortage in the trucking industry and enhance safety training for young truckers, however a Michiana trucking company says legislators should pump the brakes on the bill.

Indiana Senator Todd Young and a group of senators from both parties reintroduced the Developing Responsible Individuals for a Vibrant Economy Act, or DRIVE-Safe Act, last week. Young and other senators introduced a similar bill in 2018, but it didn’t make it to a vote amid public safety concerns.

Legislators think this updated bill will change that.

The American Trucking Association estimates 90,000 drivers would need to be hired every year through 2026 to fill the current shortage.

Most states allow people to get a commercial driver license and drive trucks at age 18, but federal regulations prevent those drivers from crossing state lines until they turn 21. Some in the industry say they lose qualified candidates because of this.

Under the DRIVE-Safe Act, certified CDL holders permitted to drive intrastate could participate in an apprenticeship program that would eventually allow them to drive interstate before turning 21. Young drivers must complete at least 400 hours of on-duty time and 240 hours of drive time with an experienced driver in the cab with them. All trucks used in the program must also be equipped with safety technology.  

“We understand more than anyone the need to develop a responsible pathway to safely train more drivers,” said Senator Young in a statement. “This apprenticeship program will address the driver shortage, create new career opportunities for young Hoosiers, and substantially raise training standards.”

Ken Cubberly is the president of Keystone Logistics.

He says companies call his South Bend based business every day looking for drivers.

Cubberly isn’t against the program but doesn’t know if it would attract drivers. He says it takes a mentally and physically tough person to drive a truck and age doesn’t determine that. Cubberly also worries how trucking companies will pay to implement the program. He adds small companies like his won’t be able to insure young drivers. Under Keystone’s current policy, they can’t hire anyone under the age of 25.

“We do alright, we make money, but at the end of the day, I’m very happy with one and a half or two percent,” said Cubberly. “It’s not going to take much for that one and a half or that two percent to flip over. So, that’s my concern here. I would not have a problem doing it, my big problem would be how am I going to pay for it. When you look at X number of millions of dollars in revenue, and that two percent, it doesn’t take long for that two percent to be eaten up.”

To learn more about the bill click here.

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