Washington, D.C. – Congressman Darin LaHood (IL-18) joined a bipartisan group of lawmakers to introduce the Developing Responsible Individuals for a Vibrant Economy (DRIVE-Safe) Act in the House of Representatives. This legislation promotes job opportunities, enhances safety training for new members of the workforce, and addresses the issues driver shortages cause in the trucking and foodservice distributor industries as well as consumers across the nation.
"The trucking and foodservice industries are economic engines in central and west-central Illinois," said Rep. LaHood. "As I travel across my district, I hear repeatedly from employers about the challenge of finding and retaining personnel to meet demand. This bipartisan legislation will provide high-skilled, lucrative career prospects in the trucking industry for interested individuals, and expand the pool of applicants allowing businesses of all sizes to grow and hire qualified and safety-trained drivers."
"The DRIVE Safe Act is a common sense, pro-safety bill that will undoubtedly support Illinois truckers," said Matt Hart, Executive Director of the Illinois Trucking Association. "This bill will raise training standards, create high-paying jobs, and expand opportunity. We applaud Congressman LaHood and the bipartisan group on the introduction of this legislation."
“This common-sense proposal will open enormous opportunities for the 18-21 year-old population, giving them access to a high-paying profession and free of the debt burden that comes with a college degree,” said Mark S. Allen, President and CEO of the International Foodservice Distributors Association. “We thank Congressman LaHood for his continued leadership on this issue.”
“This bill has strong, bipartisan backing because it’s both common sense and pro-safety,” said Chris Spear, President and CEO of American Trucking Associations. “It raises the bar for training standards and safety technology far above what is asked of the thousands of 18- to 20-year-old drivers who are already legally driving commercial vehicles in 49 states today. The DRIVE Safe Act is not a path to allow every young person to drive across state lines, but it envisions creating a safety-centered process for identifying, training and empowering the safest, most responsible 18- to 20-year-olds to more fully participate in our industry. It will create enormous opportunities for countless Americans seeking a high-paying profession without the debt burden that comes with a four-year degree.”
Recent estimates suggest trucking companies will need to hire an additional 1.1 million drivers to keep up with the rate of retiring drivers, among other factors, over the next several years.
49 states, including Illinois, allow commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs) to be issued to drivers at the age of 18; federal regulation restricts CDL-holding drivers from operating across state lines until they are 21. Currently, there is no additional training required for drivers when they turn 21 and become eligible to participate in interstate commerce transportation, but the arbitrary delay hampers the hiring of prospective truck drivers under 21 and dissuades those skilled workers from pursuing the driving industry. This issue is particularly problematic in regions like west-central Illinois where an emerging driver would be prohibited from making a trip from Quincy, IL to Hanibal, MO.
The “Developing Responsible Individuals for a Vibrant Economy Act”, or the “DRIVE-Safe Act” would allow employers to provide CDL holders below the age of 21 with an extensive training program that will allow them to safely participate in interstate commerce upon completion.
The bill has broad regional, bipartisan, and bicameral support. In the House, Reps. Cuellar, Westerman, Cooper, Hollingsworth, Slotkin, Hinson, Balderson and Golden joined Hollingsworth as original cosponsors for the bill. In the Senate, Senators Tester, Moran, King, Inhofe, Sinema, Cotton, and Manchin introduced the companion bill.
Read full text of the legislation here.