New Program Helps Both Veterans and the Trucking Industry

New Program Helps Both Veterans and the Trucking Industry A newly-announced pilot program aims to address the shortage of truck drivers in the United States, while assisting young veterans and National Guard reservists. Current federal law prohibits anyone under the age of 21 from driving a commercial truck. However, this program allows 18- to 20-year-old veterans or reservists to use use their military truck driving training to drive commercial trucks across state lines.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao announced the pilot program during a recent visit to Omaha, Nebraska. “Men and women do a great job of performing that task for the military so the question is why are they not allowed to do that same job in the civilian life,” she said.

The American Trucking Association estimates a shortage of about 50,000 truck drivers in the United States. This shortage is causing delayed deliveries, higher prices, and the problem continues to get worse. The trucking industry offers incentives to prospective drivers in an attempt to alleviate the problem, but still continues to struggle to fill their fleets with drivers.

Experience and training

There are some questions concerning the value of this program or the numbers of drivers who may be eligible.  According to Maj. Gen. Daryl Bohac, adjutant general of the Nebraska National Guard, nearly 600 members of the Nebraska Guard hold the military training that is roughly the equivalent of a commercial driver’s license. He believes this program would benefit the Guard and private trucking companies, bringing in younger members who would build strong ties with the community and be more likely to remain in the area.

Of course, the public deserves only qualified and well-trained drivers behind the wheel of these 75,000-pound vehicles. It is necessary from a safety perspective that any driver of a commercial vehicle be experienced and well-trained. In the past, there has been some hesitation in lowering the age requirement for a commercial driver’s license, since unsafe drivers of less experiences or unqualified drivers pose a great risk of danger to the motoring public and  can be a high risk for truck accidents.

Proponents of the program point out that veterans and National Guard members have passed extensive training and should qualify as being reliable and safe.

The impact of this driver program may indeed be limited, but programs that help both our infrastructure and our veterans are a positive change. If the pilot is successful, we may see similar programs addressing these types of needs in the future.

If you are injured in an accident with a truck that wasn’t your fault, talk to one of the truck accident lawyers at McGowan, Hood, Felder & Phillips, LLC. Our South Carolina legal team can help you seek compensation for your injuries, and we can take care of the details of your case while you heal from your injuries. Call us today at 803-327-7800 or complete our contact form.