DRIVE Safe Integrity Act Aims to Address Truck Driver Shortage

The National Propane Gas Association (NPGA) is closely monitoring the DRIVE Safe Integrity Act, a recently introduced bill to address the national truck driver shortage. U.S. Reps introduced the bill. Rick Crawford (R-Ark.) and Henry Cuellar (D-Texas). It aims to eliminate the legal restrictions that keep drivers between 18 and 20 from working as interstate truck drivers.

According to the American Trucking Association (ATA), to meet the expanding needs of freight transportation, 1.2 million additional drivers will be needed to fill the industry’s current shortage of over 78,000 truck drivers. Although 49 states and the District of Columbia permit heavy-duty commercial vehicle operation by 18-, 19-, and 20-year-olds with a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) in intrastate commerce, federal laws forbid the same drivers from operating in interstate commerce.

The Safe Driver Apprenticeship Pilot Program was included in the bipartisan infrastructure law 2021, and the DRIVE Safe Integrity Act builds on the bipartisan support the DRIVE Safe Act received in previous Congresses. Up to 3,000 drivers between 18 and 20 are eligible to drive interstate trucks under the pilot program. The Department of Transportation (DOT) has been unable to gather the information needed to support a long-term program because of the program’s low participation. As a result, Michael Baker from the NPGA explained that Congress is reintroducing legislation to address the driver shortage.

The bipartisan infrastructure law left out additional DOT requirements for program participation, as emphasized by the ATA, and the DRIVE Safe Integrity Act seeks to address them. The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee had scheduled the bill for discussion in late May. Still, Baker claims the chairman pulled it at the last minute over objections from committee members to specific provisions. NPGA is still optimistic that the bill will pass the House, but what will happen afterward is unclear.

NPGA is dedicated to working with the ATA and other interested parties to promote the legislation and support its advancement.

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