More teen truckers hitting the road

(NBC News) The new transportation bill President Obama Friday includes something you may not have realized. It allows some 18, 19 and 20-year-olds to drive big-rigs across state lines.

Before this month, 48 states licensed young drivers, as long as they stayed within state lines.

The new highway bill allows 18 to 20-year-olds to cross state lines, if they learned to drive in the military.

“It’s a dumb idea,” says Jackie Gillian of Advocates for Highway & Auto Safety. “Why are we letting them drive when we see these studies that show that they have four to six times the fatal crash rates as more experienced and older drivers?”

Chuck Kuhn, president of JK Moving Services, says that isn’t the point.

“I still don’t understand what the difference is in crossing a state line. If they are safe to drive within the state, they should be safe to drive out of the state,” Kuhn says.

Safety is a concern. Advocates say on average ten people die every day in truck accidents, and it’s usually the people in the other vehicle who get killed. They want more safety studies.

Truck companies wants more drivers. There are nearly 3.5 million now, but industry leaders predict they’ll need to hire 890,000 drivers over the next decade to keep up with growth and replace retirees.

“As long as companies keep and eye on those young drivers and they give them that proper training, I think it’ll be just fine,” says driver Darell Jones.

He believes strong oversight by trucking companies is the key to young drivers operating safely.

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