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18-Year-Olds Can Now Drive Semi-Trucks. Is This Safe?

 Posted on January 25, 2022 in Truck Accidents

dallas truck accident lawyerMost parents, when asked whether they would allow their teenager to drive a tractor-trailer, would probably answer with a resounding “no.” However, a new law has gone into effect that will allow people as young as 18 years old to drive semi-trucks across state lines. While most states allow some semi-truck operation by those under 21 years old, they have traditionally been restricted from long-haul drives that take them out of the state. The danger associated with these enormous vehicles has many people concerned that the highways could become less safe with the passage of this new law. 

If you are injured in a big rig accident, it is important to seek prompt medical attention and then call an attorney. The sooner your lawyer can start investigating the crash on your behalf, the more likely it is that critical evidence at the scene of the accident will be found and properly documented in time. 

Why Was This Law Passed?

The short answer is that there is a labor shortage across the board, in nearly all industries, including commercial trucking. When trucks are not running because there is no one to drive them, deliveries do not get made, and then you start to see empty shelves at the supermarket. Lawmakers hope to expand the labor force available to drive trucks in order to keep the supply chain moving. 

What Safety Precautions Are Being Taken?

Under the new Safe Driver Apprenticeship Pilot Program, drivers under 21 years old will only be permitted to drive big rigs across state lines under the direct supervision of a more experienced driver. The supervising driver must be at least 26 years old with five years of commercial trucking experience. Hopefully, this supervision requirement will reduce instances of reckless behavior by teen semi-truck drivers. 

Further, trucks used in the apprenticeship program must be equipped with a variety of safety equipment, such as automated emergency braking systems. Apprentice drivers will also be restricted from driving hazmat trucks or pulling more than one trailer at a time. 

Is This Safe?

Whether lowering the minimum age from 21 to 18 is safe is a topic that is very much up for debate. One alarming University of Michigan study suggested that truck drivers under 21 years old are 500% more likely to cause an accident with injuries. Organizations that have voiced opposition to this new law on safety grounds include the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, and the Truck Safety Coalition. 

The concern revolves around these young drivers’ lack of experience. 18-year-olds have had three years or less to practice driving a small personal vehicle. Semi-trucks are much more difficult. Teens in this range also have accidents related to reckless or careless driving at a much higher rate than other age groups, as they may lack maturity and good judgment. This leads many to question whether trusting teens with tractor-trailers is safe. 

Contact a Texas Truck Accident Lawyer

If you are injured in a semi-truck accident, Jerry D. Andrews, P.C. may be able to recover damages on your behalf. Our Dallas truck accident attorneys are committed to helping victims of careless or reckless trucking receive full compensation for their injuries. Call us at 214-221-5800 to get started with a free consultation. 


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