Is the age of eighteen too young to drive a truck? That debate has been going on since the beginning of time and is still a hot topic to this day. I admit the older you get the younger eighteen looks in age and yes we know that girls mature faster than boys, at least that’s what I was told. But are we missing a critical age group that could be vital to our future of the trucking industry?
Recently the United States has brought the issue up through funding for an apprentice program to train teenagers to operate on the Interstate and wrapped it up with the Infrastructure Bill tabled by President Biden allowing teens age 18-21 to drive commercial vehicles. They are calling it the Teen Trucker Program and not everyone is happy about it. The program has certain criteria much like our Canadian M.E.L.T. (Mandatory Entry Level Training) with certain hours set out for different types of training. You can read the criteria here.
The question comes back to personal decisions and there are good reasons on both sides of the argument. Yes teens are more prone to crashes at that age and, do they have the mentality to be responsible in a truck? Whether in a commercial vehicle or not teens are still on the roads with us and yes I know that trucks do more damage than cars. Often the crashes for teens are peer pressure, first time freedom on the road and a lack of continuing training, therefore crashes are expected. But what about the flip side?
I am one of those teens that they said should not be on the road. After leaving high school I got a job with a moving company at seventeen, got my commercial straight truck licence at eighteen, and my tractor trailer licence at twenty. I continued to drive for twenty-five years, supervised a fleet with multiple locations, and am still involved in the industry forty years later. Sure I’ve made mistakes over the years but most of those were after the age twenty-five.
In today’s industry we have training and technology to continue to help a young driver evolve and be successful at those young ages. Oh and there was no peer pressure to go racing at the corner while driving around the Country. I think with a graduated system this could be a very successful program.
To back it up most of the so called “farm kids” that were driving trucks on the farm at the age of twelve were our best drivers back in the day because they had time to practice and a guided hand of someone with experience. Those kids have stopped coming into the industry so how do we take that same idea and replicate it to a new audience. A program like this gives kids not looking to future education a chance at a good living. It also brings a younger audience to the industry. I personally am all for having younger drivers with proper supervision begin to look at the industry right out of high school, if I hadn’t found trucking in my life who knows where I would have ended up. If you are interested in a career in trucking talk to an Accredited School about your options and career path. You can find them at www.ttsao.com
About the Author
Bruce Outridge is a veteran in the transportation industry with over 40 years in the industry in a variety of roles from driver to fleet supervisor and more. Today he is a media entrepreneur in the industry producing a number of programs within the trucking industry. You can learn more about Bruce and his work and his trucking podcast at www.theleadpedalpodcast.com
Disclaimer: This article is written and based on the opinion of the author and is for general information only