FERDINAND, Ind. (WFIE) - A new bill introduced in Congress could help with a truck driver shortage in Indiana.
Senate Bill 569 or the DRIVE Safe Act was introduced to Congress in February by Senator Todd Young from Indiana. The goal is to lower the age requirements for interstate commercial travel.
That could open the door for businesses to hire younger employees and fill empty positions.
Here in the Crossroads of America, companies like A/T Transportation in Ferdinand are feeling that pressure to find drivers who can and want to make interstate deliveries.
“A lot of drivers, they want to be home every night, they want to be with their family, a hundred percent understandable," said John Echelbarger. Echelbarger works as the public relations and hiring manager for a Ferdinand based trucking firm called A/T Transportation. AT specializes in interstate freight hauls.
“As of right now for a driver to be hired under the age of 21 we would have to keep them within Indiana. For us that’s next to impossible.” Echelbarger said.
But the DRIVE Safe Act is looking to: drop that age requirement, increase the training for drivers, and open up a new opportunity for young workers.
If passed, the DRIVE Safe Act would drop the age requirement to 18 and mandate roughly 400 hours of training before a driver is fully licensed.
That training would go over things like: pre-trip planning, logging, inspections, interstate, city, and rural driving.
“At the end of the day we want our drivers to be safe you know out there on the road," said Echelbarger. "You know we have, I have, a family and we want to make sure that our drivers are representing us the way that when you drive beside an 18 wheeler. I think it’s an excellent opportunity if it’s done the right way with the proper safety and training. I think it’s going to open our industry up.”
That bill still has a number of steps to becoming a law.
As of right now it would still have to pass through both the House and Senate before making its way to the president’s desk.