The commercial trucking industry faces a shortage of drivers that could impact the ability of the HVACR market to move its products through the interstate supply chain. To help fill the need, a bill introduced in Congress would allow commercial drivers who are under 21 to travel across state lines.
The DRIVE-Safe Act, sponsored by Congressman Trey Hollingsworth (R-IN) and Senator Toddy Young (R-IN), would offer high school graduates training for interstate commercial driver’s licenses they are currently ineligible to hold.
The bill removes age restrictions on interstate transportation by licensed commercial drivers and strengthens safety-training standards across the industry. The current prohibition on crossing state lines bars the trucking industry from utilizing its complete workforce amid a massive driver shortage and growing demand for freight transportation.
Legal Operation Of A Commercial Motor Vehicle
The apprenticeship training program would help ensure these drivers are trained beyond current standards
Though many states allow individuals to obtain a commercial driver’s license at the age 18, federal law currently prohibits those operators from moving goods from state to state until they are 21. The DRIVE-Safe Act establishes an apprenticeship program that would allow for the legal operation of a commercial motor vehicle in interstate commerce by CDL holders under the age of 21.
The apprenticeship training program would help ensure these drivers are trained beyond current standards while instituting rigorous safety standards and performance benchmarks.
HVACR Logistics Network
Commercially licensed truck drivers are the linchpin of the entire HVACR logistics network, moving equipment from suppliers to distributors, and from distributors to customers, according to HARDI (Heating, Air-Conditioning & Refrigeration Distributors International).
“The DRIVE-Safe Act would alleviate the current shortage of qualified CDL holders by allowing younger drivers to train with experienced drivers,” according to HARDI. “We believe that this legislation will benefit our economy and make America’s highways safer in the future.”
Moving equipment makes commercially licensed truck drivers the linchpin of the HVACR logistics network
Trucking industry estimates point to a need for 890,000 additional drivers over the next decade. According to an industry analysis by DAT Solutions, just one truck was available for every 12 loads needing to be shipped at the start of 2018, which is the lowest ratio since 2005.
In short, the DRIVE-Safe Act modernizes federal law to empower the trucking industry to fill these gaps with a qualified, highly trained emerging workforce.
Two-Step Additional Training Program
Formally named the Developing Responsible Individuals for a Vibrant Economy Act, DRIVE-Safe enhances safety and training standards for newly qualified and current drivers, according to the International Foodservice Distributors Association, which represents another industry that supports the bill.
Drivers must complete at least 400 hours of on-duty time and 240 hours of driving time in the cab with an experienced driver
Under the legislation, once a driver qualifies for a commercial driver’s license, they begin a two-step additional training program with rigorous performance benchmarks. Drivers must complete at least 400 hours of on-duty time and 240 hours of driving time in the cab with an experienced driver. Every driver will train on trucks equipped with new safety technology including active braking collision mitigation systems, video event capture, and a speed governor of 65 miles per hour or below, according to IFDA.
Meet The Needs Of Learners, Educators
It's an interesting concept that can be applied more broadly to address the labor shortage issues facing the HVACR industry; in short, to attract more employees earlier. Apprenticeships are already a well-proven approach to developing skilled employees. Working with our education system to increase awareness and opportunity of technical careers is central to meeting labor needs in the future.
In 2018, the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act was signed into law. It goes into effect in July of 2019 and creates new opportunities to improve career and technical education and provides more flexibility for states to meet the needs of learners, educators and employers. More help is on the way.