The trucking industry has been struggling for a while with a shortage of qualified drivers. While this has a lot of implications for the nation as a whole, it’s impossible to ignore the shortage’s consequences on roadway safety – especially when you consider the impact of the Safe Driver Apprenticeship Program (SDAP).
The SDAP effectively provides a method for companies to use drivers as young as 18 years of age for interstate deliveries. The current age limit is 21. While this is only a pilot program, there are many opposed to the action because they feel that younger drivers simply inspire too many risks.
What are the cons of allowing younger drivers?
There are numerous arguments for broadening the pool of available drivers to anybody who holds a commercial driver’s license (CDL), regardless of their age – but there are equally numerous arguments against them.
Most opponents of the SDAP cite the fact that it takes the kind of experience that can only come with time for a driver to overcome:
- A limited familiarity with large vehicles: Maneuvering a truck requires a different skill set than driving a smaller vehicle, and inexperienced drivers may struggle to adjust to a truck’s turning radius, handling, braking and blind spots.
- Challenges in navigating traffic: Truckers almost need a “sixth sense” to navigate complex traffic situations in urban areas and on highway interchanges. A novice trucker may have trouble anticipating and responding appropriately to the movements of other vehicles.
- Difficulties with complex weather or terrain: It takes skill to safely traverse hills, turns, iced-over bridges and snowy roads. Drivers who have been rushed through an apprentice program may lack the necessary skills to cope.
- An overall lack of maturity: There’s no dispute that the human brain doesn’t fully complete its maturation until someone is in their mid-twenties. Teenage drivers may simply be more impulsive and prone to bad decisions than those with a few more years on them.
Regardless of your personal feelings on the issue, it is always wise to be on your guard when you’re sharing the road with a big rig. If you do end up in a wreck, seeking experienced legal guidance can help you obtain fair compensation for your injuries and other losses.