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Senate Transportation Committee passes resolution calling for under 21 truck drivers to cross state lines

Senate Transportation Committee passes resolution calling for under 21 truck drivers to cross state lines

Senate Resolution 258 urges Congress to pursue a legislative solution allowing 18-20 year-olds with a CDL to drive across state lines.

A resolution urging Congress to pass legislation allowing CDL drivers under 21-years-old to drive commercial motor vehicles over state lines passed the Senate Transportation Committee. 

The Pennsylvania Motor Truck Association (PMTA) is encouraging members and the entire trucking community to call their legislators and ask them to support this resolution.

The resolution points to the national truck driver shortage, which according to the American Trucking Associations (ATA) is around 78,000 drivers and only expected to increase. 

Senate Resolution 258 cites a United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) statistic estimating growth in truck freight activity in Pennsylvania from 2018 to 2045 of 51% in tonnage, 58% in ton-miles and 80% in value. 

To accommodate this increase in freight activity, it is estimated the shortage will grow to 1.2 million truck drivers over the next decade, this statistic is cited in the resolution. 

Under current regulations, truck drivers must be at least 21 years old to drive a truck for commercial purposes over state lines, however 18-21-year-olds are able to obtain a commercial learner's permit and operate a truck within one state. 

PMTA Board Member and Safety Specialist / Employee Educator for Vorzik Transport, Inc. in Northwest Pennsylvania, Dale Knox, has worked in the trucking industry for 48 years, 28 of those years spent in driver education, recruitment, safety and compliance. Knox has worked to establish CDL programs at high schools, host Youth Driving Championships and train drivers under 21 years of age for intrastate trucking jobs.

“As a CDL Examiner, I have tested and passed an 18-year-old. This driver has been driving intrastate for over a year now with no accidents and no citations, almost 100,000 miles. He can drive 400 miles to Philadelphia, yet he can’t drive 25 miles to cross into Ohio or New York,” said Knox. “I’ve also tested and passed a 20-year-old driver. By the time his CDL arrived in the mail, about 10-15 days later, he turned 21. All he had to do was go to the DMV with $45 and get his intrastate CDL changed over to an interstate CDL. This driver can drive across state lines because he is 21 years old with no professional experience.”

“Now the question is which driver would you rather hire for your company? The one with a year of experience, or the one without?”

Resolution 258 states: “To preserve Pennsylvania’s economic security and supply chain efficiency, the pool of qualified drivers must be expanded while promoting appropriate safety standards and performance criteria.”

The median age of an over-the-road truck driver is 46 which is four years older than the average American worker. 

PMTA is working to educate young people on fulfilling, family sustaining careers in the trucking industry that are most often obtainable without the debt that can come from a four-year-college degree. 

Through conversations with our members and CDL school programs, PMTA staff have learned students tend to gravitate to other trades, besides commercial driving, because students are able to secure a job immediately upon graduation and obtaining a certificate.

The resolution states "The Federal prohibition on CDL drivers under 21 years of age operating in interstate commerce limits the number of jobs that are available to young drivers to grow their skills in the trucking industry, and this limitation often forces them to follow other career paths at a time when they are making critical decisions about their future."

Allowing CDL drivers under the age of 21 to participate in interstate commerce will significantly broaden the pool of qualified drivers to address the current truck driver shortage while mitigating the future need for CDL drivers. Not only will this benefit the Commonwealth, but it will also benefit the CDL drivers who will have earlier access to career opportunities enabling them to establish themselves in the industry and find family-sustaining jobs.

“We absolutely have to have this passed in order to have a solid future for the trucking industry and American economy. I have three trucks sitting right now because we don’t have enough drivers,” said Phil Garber, Chairman of the PMTA Board of Directors and Owner of GFI Transport. “We are not suggesting under 21 drivers drive without extensive training of one-to-two years at a CDL trade school, and we’ve found insurance companies will support that. It is common sense that a trained, licensed commercial driver should be able to drive from Philadelphia into New Jersey if they can drive from Philadelphia into Pittsburgh.”

Senator Greg Rothman (R-34) posted a memorandum to all Pennsylvania Senate members asking for co-sponsors on January 2, 2024.

Senator Judy Ward (R-30) and Senator Scott Martin (R-13) co-sponsored the resolution. 

The resolution passed the Senate Transportation Committee with a vote of 9-5. 

To contact your SENATOR:

-          Find them here:

o   Have some notes or facts with you and prepare what you want to say. This call should take no longer than a minute or two. Be prepared to talk to a staff member of your legislator or leave a voicemail.

o   Call the number or email the address listed under contact information.

o   State your name, and say you are a resident of (city, county, townships etc.)

o   Tell them you are calling to urge your senator to support Senate Resolution 258 on the truck driver shortage posted April 5.

o   Explain WHY. Do you have a personal story of how this would impact you and your business? Now’s your chance to tell them. Be clear, concise and polite.

o   Say thank you for taking the time to address something impacting Pennsylvania’s supply chain.

-          After the call:

o   If you left a voicemail, consider posting on social media and tagging your legislators and/or emailing them.


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