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(ANDERSON, Ind.) – Trucking companies want Congress to let them fill a driver shortage with 18-to-20-year-olds.

Every state except Hawaii allows 18-year-olds to get a trucker’s license — but they can’t cross state lines. Trucking companies argue it doesn’t make sense to say someone can be trusted to drive from Gary to Jeffersonville, but can’t legally drive from Jeffersonville across the Ohio River to Louisville. Without the ability to drive multistate routes, those younger drivers are unhireable.

Indiana Motor Truck Association president Gary Langston says the trucking industry nationwide has a driver shortage of at least 50,000 drivers. The association is backing bills authored by Indiana Senator Todd Young and Congresman Trey Hollingsworth to lift the restriction. Young drivers would have to do 400 hours of supervised practice in addition to getting their license.’

Red Gold COO Hue Andrews says modern technology averts accidents and warns drivers if they cross the center lin. He argues there’s little reason to worry younger drivers’ lack of experience would make them less safe on the road. And Langston says if 18-year-olds have to wait three years before they can apply for trucking jobs, they’re likely to find something else to do instead.

The bill died without a hearing last year, but Young says he’s getting an earlier start thsi year. And unlike last year, he notes, it’s not an election year.

(Photo: Eric Berman/WIBC)