19 year olds Driving Longer Tractor Trailers Closer to Reality

Portner & Shure Law Firm Serving Maryland, Virginia & Washington D.C.

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Everyday drivers have to worry about the normal dangers on the road: distracted drivers, speeders, tailgaters, drunk drivers, and sleepy truck drivers. But in the near future, drivers might have to worry about teenage drivers behind the wheel of tractor trailers on interstate highways.

The trucking industry has been lobbying on Capitol Hill to get legislation passed that would allow longer trucks (33 feet long instead of 28 feet) and lower the minimum age of commercial truck drivers who drive across state lines to between 19 and a half and 21 years of age. And, just this past Thursday, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee unanimously passed this bill. We will have to see if the Senate passes this as well.

Tractor trailers and other large trucks are already dangerous on the road with current rules and regulations in place. Current problems with truck drivers include falling asleep behind the wheel, speeding, distracted driving, and drunk driving. Research has shown that on average, large trucks are involved in about 10 fatal crashes everyday nationwide. The number of fatal truck accidents has steadily increased each of the last 6 years. In these horrific accidents, it is not usually the truck driver who dies, but instead the occupant/s in the smaller vehicle.

Lowering the minimum driving age for commercial truck driving across state lines would certainly lead to a substantial increase in deadly accidents on highways across the country. Drivers between the ages of 18 and 20 are involved in twice as many fatal car accidents than drivers 21 and over. The risks involved with driving a car do not even compare to the risks and difficulty level of driving an 18-wheeler tractor trailer. Maryland state law already allows 18 year old drivers to obtain commercial drivers’ licenses, however, they are only permitted to drive commercial vehicles within the state. Their commercial driver’s license does not permit them to drive commercial vehicles across state lines due to a federal ban. Numerous studies have proven year after year that young drivers under the age of 21 are more likely to speed and engage in risky driving behavior, such as driving when tired.

If you or a family member have been injured or killed in a truck accident and would like to consult an experienced Maryland personal injury attorney for free, contact our office at (301) 854-9000 to schedule an appointment at one of our office locations in Frederick or throughout Maryland or visit us online at http://www.portnerandshure.com/Auto-Accidents/Truck-Accidents