Are teen truck drivers a danger?

Maryland teenagers might find themselves able to access a lucrative profession: truck driving. New exceptions to the law may open doors to would-be drivers who previously had to wait until age 21 to work in the trucking industry — lowering the age threshold to 18 presents younger persons with the chance to earn a decent living. However, some critics have concerns about a young person’s ability to operate a tractor-trailer safely.

Changes to the law might lower the age limit

In late 2021, President Joe Biden signed infrastructure legislation that greenlighted a pilot program. The program allows some truck drivers under age 21 to make interstate trips. Likely, a shortage of truck drivers combined with supply chain issues prompted the laxer requirements.

Statistics show that teen drivers are more likely to get into accidents than older persons. Therefore, worries about younger truck drivers taking such dangerous vehicles onto the road seem understandable. A person with limited experience driving could be at an increased risk for an accident,

Truck driving and inherent dangers

A younger driver could be more aggressive on the road and more likely to commit moving violations, two factors that could boost the chances of truck accidents. That said, a commercial truck driver would undergo extensive testing requirements to receive a commercial license. Teen drivers might also have to comply with an employer’s safety rules and regulations.

Still, a younger driver might not have the “road time” to become familiar with safe driving practices. Lack of experience might lead to slowed reactions when an immediate response to a hazard becomes necessary.

Truck drivers, regardless of age, could cause accidents when fatigued or distracted. Younger drivers who skip mandatory breaks or direct attention towards a cellphone when driving might cause crashes. Such incidents may lead to a costly lawsuit.

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