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Final Highway Bill Scaled Back On Teen-Trucker Provisions

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Final Highway Bill Scaled Back On Teen-Trucker Provisions

Final Highway Bill Scaled Back On Teen-Trucker Provisions

Final Highway Bill Scaled Back On Teen-Trucker Provisions by eMedia Staff Writer’ The time is approaching for Congress to finalize its vote on the 5-year National Highway Bill amounting to $305 billion. However it looks like that there will not be any 18-year old truck drivers on the interstate highway. The legislation is not allowing teenagers to drive commercial trucks on interstate highways. The allowance for young truck drivers was included in the version of the bill passed by the House and the Senate. However the new provision in the bill will introduce the scaled-back pilot program in which only military veterans with an experience of truck-driving can participate. This final provision in the Highway Bill is a disappointment to the trucking community and lobby which has encouraged and supported young truck drivers for years. They have often argued that an innovative graduate-license system for truck drivers under the age of 21 is the only efficient and sensible way to fill the vacuum left by the shortage of truck drivers all over the U.S. The President and Chief Executive Officer of the American Trucking Associations Bill Graves said “It’s good news that Congress has created an opportunity for young veterans to transition to the trucking industry. We believe it is illogical to allow these younger drivers to operate in intrastate commerce in each of the 48 contiguous states but not let them cross state borders.’ Apart from the backed-down approach on the age of the truck drivers the Highway Bill has also faced several difficulties during its conception in the form of the lack of funding for the 5-year highway and transit construction. Moreover the bill comprises of several health and safety regulations that have been revised after a number of years. U.S. Senator Cory Booker D-N.J. said “We were trying to defend against rollbacks in truck safety at a time when we have a significant increase in truck fatalities and accidents on our highways.’ Senator Booker also supported the provision in the bill to study the effects of long commutes on the health of the drivers before they report for another commute. According to Booker “This was critical to me. We’re going to continue to fight because what we’ve seen from the truck industry is they’re going to continue to push the bounds of human endurance.’ Many of the provisions in the Highway Bill will affect the trucking industry directly. The most significant blow to the fleet enterprises is the change in regulation concerning the 33-foot trailers in which the Senate has gone on record and openly opposed the policy. However the trucking enterprises still have hope that the Annual Appropriations Bill for the Transportation Department can revise this specific policy and authorize the operations of 33-foot trailers. Unfortunately though most of the advocates for Highway and Auto Safety publicly oppose longer trailers. President of the Washington-based watchdog group Jackie Gillan said “Major improvements were made in the final bill. Many lawmakers were alarmed over numerous anti-safety rollbacks adopted in both the House and Senate versions on behalf of special auto and trucking interests.’

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