Are Teenage Truck Drivers Coming to New Jersey Roads?

While a new law aims to increase the number of teens operating large trucks, the short answer is that there are already teenagers driving large trucks in New Jersey.

There simply aren’t enough truck drivers in the United States to meet current demand. We are already tens of thousands of drivers short. Over the next decade, the trucking industry will require another 100,000 new drivers each year. Republican senators have proposed a solution. With backing from the trucking industry, a group of legislators are seeking to lower the minimum age for operating certain commercial vehicles from 21 to 18.

Currently, drivers must be at least 21 years old to operate a commercial vehicle across state lines. This new law would let teens drive semi-trucks and big-rigs from state to state, as long as the states involved agreed. States would not be required to enter into agreements (compacts) with neighboring states. This means that New Jersey would have to make an agreement with neighboring states before the rules would apply here.

The law would place some limits on the types of trucks that the teenagers could operate and the cargo they could carry. They wouldn’t be allowed to haul hazardous materials or carry oversize loads.

Proponents of the new policy argue that teens are already allowed to operate these vehicles within states. New Jersey residents can already get a commercial driver license (CDL) at 18 years old. The new laws would simply allow them to drive over the border to Pennsylvania or New York, when they can already drive from Cape May to Fort Lee.

Those against the law cite statistics showing that teens tend to be much more dangerous than older drivers. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, drivers 16-19 years old are about three times as likely to be involved in a fatal crash as drivers who are at least 20 years old. Combined with the size of tractor-trailers, opponents believe this new policy could lead to many injuries and deaths in our state.

Seigel Law provides representation to victims of truck wrecks and commercial vehicle accidents throughout New Jersey. From our offices in Ridgewood, we serve those who have been injured in Bergen County and the surrounding areas. Our firm has been helping injury victims and their families since 1976. For a free initial consultation, call us today at 201.444.4000 or contact us online.

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