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Bill to allow teenage interstate truck drivers introduced

The law of Texas lets young people under the age of 18 have a driver's license. Certain restrictions apply.

As information from the Department of Transportation notes, under the Graduated Driver License Program drivers under 18 have to have a learner license or minor restricted driver license for at least six months before they can get one of the various classes of license -- and then it's only provisional. Once they reach age 18, there are still some limits on what they can and can't do.

The rationale for all the rules is rooted in statistics. According to the federal Transportation Department, the rate of fatal crashes involving drivers between 18 and 20 was 66 percent higher than they were for those 21 and over in 2013. The raw facts show that young, inexperienced drivers have more accidents and they more often cause fatal injuries.

And it is in this environment that a group of senators in Washington have introduced a bill that would allow 18-year-old drivers take the controls of 18-wheelers on interstate highways. Supporters of the measure say the younger drivers are needed to make up for a shortage of truckers. Critics say opening big rig driver doors to teens is an invitation for catastrophic truck accidents.

It should be observed that individuals as young as 18 can be licensed to driver tractor-trailer trucks within Texas boundaries now under certain conditions. Many other states aren't as lenient. The new bill would open truck driving as a job to more young drivers and let them cross state lines.

Some truck industry advocates would argue it makes little sense to allow a teen to drive a truck from one end of Texas to the other and prohibit the same person from driving the relatively short haul from, say, Beaumont to Lake Charles.

Those with experience dealing with the fallout of tragic truck accidents might counter with the question; do the increased risks outweigh the possible benefits?

Source: U.S. News & World Report, "Teen truckers? Bill would lower interstate truck driver age to 18; industry cites shortage," Joan Lowy, Associated Press, July 10, 2015

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