Legislation would qualify more drivers for trucking while ensuring culture of safety
WASHINGTON, DC—A group of bipartisan lawmakers in both the House and Senate today introduced the DRIVE-Safe Act, critical legislation that will answer the country’s massive driver shortage by promoting opportunity and enhanced safety training for emerging members of this growing workforce.
A coalition of more than 90 companies and trade associations endorses the DRIVE-Safe Act, including the International Foodservice Distributors Association (IFDA) and the American Trucking Associations (ATA).
“The DRIVE-Safe Act comes at a time when the national economy is reeling from pandemic-related job losses,” said Mark S. Allen, President and CEO of the International Foodservice Distributors Association. “At the same time, the pandemic highlighted how essential professional drivers are to our everyday life, increasing the demand for this specific kind of job. The DRIVE-Safe Act will hasten our economic recovery by providing an opportunity for new drivers to enter the workforce while reinforcing a culture of safety far and above current standards.”
The driver shortage has significantly impacted the foodservice distribution industry, which requires the timely delivery of hundreds of thousands of products every day. Yet despite the fact that nearly all states allow individuals to obtain a commercial driver’s license at 18, those same drivers are prohibited from moving goods interstate until they are 21. The 83-year old restriction on interstate deliveries is particularly problematic in regions like the Washington D.C. metro area where an emerging driver would be prohibited from making a 30-minute trip between Arlington, Virginia and Bethesda, Maryland. But that same driver could haul a load from Arlington to Norfolk, Virginia, a seven-hour drive roundtrip. This restriction results means that younger drivers are unable to apply for the good paying jobs in the transportation industry.
“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.”
The DRIVE-Safe Act is also strongly supported by the Next Generation in Trucking Association, a nonprofit that engages and trains the next generation of trucking industry professionals by partnering with high schools and community and technical colleges to offer free training to students.
The DRIVE-Safe Act, officially named the Developing Responsible Individuals for a Vibrant Economy Act, will help train tomorrow’s drivers well above current standards. Under the proposed legislation, when a driver meets the requirements to obtain a CDL, they can begin a two-step program of additional training, which includes rigorous performance benchmarks that each candidate must achieve. The program will require these drivers to complete at least 400 hours of on-duty time and 240 hours of driving time with an experienced driver in the cab with them. All trucks used for training in the program must be equipped with safety technology, including active braking collision mitigation systems, video event capture, and a speed governor set at 65 miles per hour or less.
The DRIVE-Safe Act co-sponsors in the Senate include Senators Todd Young (R-IN), Jon Tester (D-MT), Tom Cotton (R-AK), Angus King (I-VT), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Senator Manchin (D-WV), and Jim Inhofe (R-OK). In the House, Co-Sponsors include Representatives Trey Hollingsworth (R-IN), Jim Cooper (D-TN), Troy Balderson (R-Oh), Henry Cuellar (D-TX), Ashley Hinson (R-IA), Jared Golden (D-ME, Darrin LaHood (R-IL), Elissa Slotkin (D-MN), and Bruce Westerman (R-AR).
About the International Foodservice Distributors Association (IFDA)
The International Foodservice Distributors Association (IFDA) is the premier trade organization representing the foodservice distribution industry. With a combined annual sales volume of almost $300 billion, foodservice distributors play a crucial role in our nation’s infrastructure. This industry ensures a safe and efficient supply chain of food and products for more than one million restaurants and foodservice outlets in the U.S. every day. IFDA member companies operate more than 800 facilities in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and around the world. For more information visit: http://www.ifdaonline.org.
About the American Trucking Associations
American Trucking Associations is the largest national trade association for the trucking industry. Through a federation of 50 affiliated state trucking associations and industry-related conferences and councils, ATA is the voice of the industry America depends on most to move our nation’s freight. Follow ATA on Twitter or on Facebook. Trucking Moves America Forward.