Grocers Among Those Urging Congress to Back DRIVE-Safe Act
Forty-two trade associations, including Food Marketing Institute and the National Grocers Association, have signed on to a letter urging Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., chair and ranking member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, to back the DRIVE-Safe Act (H.R.5358) and move it quickly through the committee.
Introduced in March, the bipartisan legislation addresses the severe truck driver shortage affecting the movement of commerce in the United States by promoting a rigorous skill development and safety-training program for drivers under the age of 21 to engage in interstate commerce.
Under the two-step training program, candidates would be accompanied in the cab by experienced drivers for a total of 400 hours of on-duty time, with at least 240 hours of driving time. Trucks would be required to be have the latest safety technology, including active braking collision mitigation systems, forward-facing event recording cameras, speed limiters set at 65 miles per hour or less, and automatic or automatic manual transmissions.
“According to a recent estimate, the nation needs an additional 50,000 truck drivers immediately, a shortage that is expected to grow to more than 174,000 by 2026,” the letter pointed out. “In many supply chains, companies are being forced to increase prices to account for higher transportation costs. This will ultimately result in higher prices for consumers on everything from electronics to food.”
The letter added that while 48 states currently permit drivers to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL) at 18, those drivers are prohibited from driving in interstate commerce until the age of 21.
“Congress should support this effort to help fill desperately needed jobs while providing younger Americans with the chance to get the training they need,” the letter’s signers noted.