An apprenticeship program being developed by the federal government and industry leaders could help reduce supply chain backlogs.
The program, detailed by an Associated Press article in the business section of a recent weekend edition of the Sun-Gazette, would allow truckers aged 18, 19 and 20 to cross state lines.
The program has a number of safety provisions, including requirements that trucks have some of the latest safety features such as an electronic braking collision mitigation system, that drivers receive an additional 400 hours of training advanced and that an older mentor accompanies the multi-state trip.
As Nick Geale, vice president of workforce safety for Trucking Groups, told The Associated Press, 49 states and Washington, DC, already allow 18-year-old truckers. Allowing these same truckers, with additional safety precautions, to cross state lines is neither a radical idea nor an inherently dangerous idea.
The proposal is also a pilot program. Its critics will have ample opportunity to examine the data and, if warranted, argue that the program should be halted.
In the meantime, the program can help reduce bottlenecks in shipping and the supply chain, alleviating some of the consumer frustrations and some of the price pressures that contribute to inflation. This, in turn, helps the United States regain its economic footing in a way that helps all Americans.
And of course, some young drivers may find that long-haul trucking is the best fit for their future, which in itself is a benefit for young people entering the workforce that we should be aware of.
In our view, the immediate benefits of the proposal, when coupled with the possibility of abandoning it if we find it unsafe – a frankly unlikely outcome given, again, that young people in 18 and 19 year olds can already drive semi trucks in 49 states – in fact a necessary step to take.