Young leads GOP senators in support of proposed federal pilot trucking program

U.S. Sen. Todd Young (R-IN) led 18 Republican senators in support of a proposed pilot program by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) that is modeled after bipartisan, bicameral legislation he unveiled in 2019.

“We write to express our support for the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) proposed pilot program to allow 18-, 19-, and 20-year-old drivers to operate commercial motor vehicles in interstate commerce,” Sen. Young and his colleagues wrote in a Nov. 12 letter sent to DOT Secretary Elaine Chao. “This new three-year program is a big leap towards improving the trucking industry and bolstering the sector’s workforce while simultaneously improving transportation safety standards.”

The proposed FMCSA pilot program “closely resembles” the bipartisan Developing Responsible Individuals for a Vibrant Economy Act, or the DRIVE-Safe Act, S. 569, which Sen. Young sponsored in February 2019 with lead cosponsor U.S. Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) to direct the DOT to implement an apprenticeship program for licensed commercial motor vehicle drivers under the age of 21, according to the congressional record bill summary. The same-named H.R.1374 also was introduced in February 2019 by U.S. Reps. Trey Hollingsworth (R-IN) and Henry Cuellar (D-TX).

“Currently, the bill enjoys strong bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate, and we hope it will become law soon,” Sen. Young and his colleagues wrote, citing the bill as “pro-safety and pro-jobs.”

The senators also noted that before the COVID-19 pandemic, America’s trucking industry needed an estimated 60,000 drivers and may have to hire 1.1 million new drivers over the next decade to keep pace with growing demand and an aging workforce. 

If enacted, the DRIVE-Safe Act and a successful federally proposed pilot program would provide a direct means for the trucking industry to partially alleviate its workforce challenges, in turn strengthening U.S. supply chains, wrote Sen. Young and his colleagues.

Among those who joined Sen. Young in signing the letter were U.S. Sens. Roy Blunt (R-MO), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Joni Ernst (R-IA), John Hoeven (R-ND), Jerry Moran (R-KS), and Thom Tillis (R-NC).