Teen drivers will soon be getting behind the wheel of commercial semi-trucks, and that has safety advocates concerned.
The new infrastructure law, signed by President Biden in November, invites 18 to 20-year-olds to drive big rigs on interstate highways. The goal of the apprenticeship program is to relieve the nationwide truck driver shortage and a supply chain squeeze. However, owner/operator Paul Pavilionis, a longtime trucker, says he doesn't think it's a good idea.
“It’s bad enough, and to have an 18-year-old behind the wheel, that would just scare me,” Pavilionis said. “When I was 18, I didn’t pretty much know what I wanted to do, let alone go that far away from home.”
Safety groups are also voicing concerns. They cite a recent study which ranks 19 to 24-year-olds as the worst drivers in the nation. Specifically, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that 88 percent of drivers between the ages of 19 and 24 have admitted to engaging in risking driving behavior within the past month.
“They’re just not focused,” Pavilionis explained. “They can’t even smoke a cigarette legally and we’re going to give them a license to go down a wheel at forty tons.”