Maybe that above-posed headline question is not a fair query, at least from the perspective of novice motorists. It’s likely that many members of the teenage driving population are flatly tired of having to deal with the stigma that will likely be forever attached to their demographic.
That is this: There is certainly no scarcity of data indicating that the nation’s youngest drivers — whether they are high schoolers headed to the local mall or just-graduated commercial truckers plying state roadways — pose outsized risks for older and more experienced motorists.
And bicyclists. And pedestrians.
“Drivers between the ages of 18 to 20 have four to six times higher rates of fatal crashes,” says Jackie Gillan, the president of a national safety advocacy group.
Gillan is certainly concerned about 18-year-old big-rig drivers. And she definitely doesn’t want them crossing state lines on long-haul treks.
That scenario hasn’t yet materialized, given current federal law mandating that a commercial trucker engaged in interstate commerce must be 21 or older.
But it could, considering that a U.S. Senate bill that would enable drivers 18-20 years of age to drive through multiple states while on the job is currently being scrutinized in Congress.
It has some advocates, both trucking firms that are short on long-haul drivers and persons who believe that current law lacks logic. After all, drivers under 21 make long trips within one state all the time, so why should they be disallowed from making a few-miles jaunt if their final destination just happens to be on the other side of a border?
Critics of the bill don’t care a whit about such reasoning. As noted in a recent NPR story focusing on teenage truckers and accident risks, they simply worry that, if the bill ultimately becomes enacted as law, it will “expand the use of teenage truck drivers who are more likely to have accidents.”
We’ll keep readers posted on any material developments that arise concerning the bill.