Action taken in two states is expected to get younger people behind the wheel of large vehicles.
One new law in Alabama lowers the minimum age to possess a Class A commercial driver’s license from 21 to 18.
Previously HB479, the new minimum age law affects intrastate driving only.
Drivers under 21 still are prohibited from transporting hazardous materials or oversized loads.
Advocates say the goal is to attract people to the trucking industry. They cite fears that young people in Alabama will have already chosen a career by the time they are old enough to legally drive truck.
The rule change takes effect in Feb. 2020.
Similarly in Alaska, a bill headed to the governor’s desk would lower the legal minimum age to possess an intrastate CDL.
Alaska law now requires people to be 19 years old before they can become licensed to drive within the state.
SB75 lowers the minimum age requirement to 18 years.
The bill also includes a provision to lower the minimum age requirement to drive truck interstate from 21 years to 18 years. The change is contingent on federal law being modified from the current 21 years of age requirement to operate a commercial vehicle interstate.
Senate Majority Leader Mia Costello, R-West Anchorage, said the state must meet demands for interstate freight transportation.
“Alaska is looking to court projects of considerable size, like the Alaska LNG pipeline,” Costello said in prepared remarks.
A fiscal note attached to the bill states there were 31,267 valid CDLs in the state as of January 2018. Only 33 were issued to applicants under age 21.
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is opposed to lowering the age requirement for obtaining an interstate CDL.
The truckers group says lowering the age requirement to possess an interstate CDL would “not only be detrimental to road safety, but also to those seeking to enter the trucking industry as professional drivers.”
The Association has noted in a letter to federal lawmakers that “among other statistics and concerns, intrastate CMV drivers under the age of 19 are four times more likely to be involved in fatal crashes, and CMV drivers who are 19-20 years of age are six times more likely to be involved in fatal crashes.”
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