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Potential issues with younger commercial drivers

Some West Virginia residents may have heard of a bill that has been introduced in Congress that would allow people as young as 18 to train as commercial drivers. Although it is known as the DRIVE-Safe Act, some people have reservations about just how safe it will be.

One objection is that statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that teenagers have a rate of involvement in motor vehicle accidents that is three times higher than that of drivers 20 and older. Furthermore, while teens make up 7 percent of the population, they are responsible for 11 percent of the cost of injuries from traffic accidents.

A different category of young drivers are those who have military training. However, the passage of the bill could put the military in competition with commercial trucking companies. Unfortunately, young drivers may not get the quality of training they need. The specific requirements of the bill will be difficult for smaller carriers to meet, so 18-to-20-year-old drivers will tend to be pushed toward large fleets. Younger drivers will not get the special attention they might at a smaller carrier. Larger fleets tend to have a very high rate of trainees moving on. If more inexperienced truck drivers are on the road, this could increase the likelihood of truck accidents. These younger drivers might also be more likely to take risks that an older driver would not.

Accidents caused by commercial trucks can be particularly severe because of the size of the vehicles compared to cars. This can also result in things such as ride-unders, when a car goes under a truck and the top of the car is peeled away. People who are injured in these types of accidents might want to file a lawsuit against the fleet owner.

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