La. hoping to lower legal truck driving age in hopes to close worker shortage gap
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Louisiana is hoping to lower the legal truck driving age in hopes of closing the worker shortage gap and hopefully putting a stop to the supply chain shortage.
The demand for goods is up thanks to traditional holiday season shopping, and truck drivers are essential to get the presents you order to your doorstep. The trucker shortage is impacting all industries. Triple G Express exports for the petrochemical industry on the west side of the river, but lately finding drivers to get behind the wheel has been hard.
“We’ve all heard about the great resignation where people are just saying, ‘hey, I’ve had enough of work, and I’m staying home now.’ Well we certainly saw that in our industry,” explains Randy Guillot who is the owner of Triple G Express.
Guillot says the trucking industry is having a hard time recruiting new drivers, particularly among young adults.
“I may not be able to hire that 18 year old, but that doesn’t mean that a competing entity, that another trucking company won’t because they will. Right? My requirements may be different, my insurance coverage may require me to hire a little bit older of a driver or a little more experience of a driver,” explains Guillot.
It’s why the state wants to take advantage of President Biden’s new Drive-Safe Act, which would allow 18-year-olds to start driving across state lines. However, safety is one of the biggest concerns. WAFB spoke with Renee Amar, who is the executive director of the Louisiana Motor Transport Association, and asked if it was necessarily a good idea to let 18 and 19-year-olds drive these trucks because they are not as experienced drivers, which is what insurance companies are most concerned about.
“I am going to tell you we’re one of the places we are having issues as well is with our insurance companies. They like you to have several years of experience driving, and so obviously at 20, that’s an issue right,” explained Amar.
Amar said if trucking companies are allowed to start hiring younger, it will help with the recent worker shortage. In fact, Louisiana lawmakers are going to push for it during the 2022 legislative season.
“Hopefully, in the near future, during the holidays I will be in conversation with the local congressional delegation. Primarily, Congressman Troy Carter and Congressman Garret Graves, who both said on the US Congressional Infrastructure Committee, to see what we need to do in the on the state here in Louisiana to ultimately to where we can incorporate that federal safety act provisions,” said Representative Ken Brass, who is over District 58.
Representative Brass also adds that they have already been working with technical colleges to see how they can start training young folks to become truck drivers, so they can speed up their chances on the bill passes.
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