Drivers under 21 must complete an apprenticeship program before driving

BATON ROUGE — The pandemic has put enormous pressure on all industries, including truckers who were already struggling before the recent labor shortage.

That’s why the Drive SAFE Act, signed into law as part of President Biden’s recent infrastructure bill, will allow drivers as young as 18 to operate large trucks. To qualify, they have to go through a long training process before they can start working.

“As far as training is concerned, they are going to be more like an apprentice. So you can’t just get your CDL like before and get out there and drive. They’ll have to drive with someone who has experience who the company can obviously trust before they can go out and get their CDL,” said Renee Amar of the Louisiana Motor Transport Association.

Candidate drivers will complete a two-part apprenticeship with an experienced driver. The apprenticeship could take up to a year, according to Amar.

The 18-wheelers driven by 18-20 year olds will also incorporate more technology, including speed limiters set at 65 miles per hour or less and anti-collision brakes.

“So we believe that when all is said and done, it will be the safest and creme de la creme to come out of this program,” Amar said.

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