U.S. Senators Todd Young (R-IN), Jerry Moran (R-KS), and James M. Inhofe (R-OK), with support from the International Foodservice Distributors Association (IFDA), introduced the DRIVE-Safe Act, critical legislation that addresses the massive driver shortage affecting the movement of commerce in our country and provides enhanced safety training for emerging trucking professionals. This is the Senate companion bill to H.R.5358 introduced by Representatives Duncan Hunter (R-CA) and Trey Hollingsworth (R-IN) in March with more than 71 bipartisan co-sponsors to date.
“Indiana is the Crossroads of America and the truck driver shortage has a significant impact on our state,” says Senator Young. “As I’ve traveled throughout Indiana, I have heard from Hoosiers that a pathway is needed to qualify more drivers to move goods safely and efficiently. The DRIVE-Safe Act will help address the driver shortage, enhance safety, and create new career opportunities for young Hoosiers.”
A shortage in drivers has disproportionally impacted the foodservice distribution industry, which requires the timely delivery of hundreds of thousands of products to professional kitchens each day. Further complicating matters, commercial drivers are currently stymied by antiqued laws, which in most states allow individuals to obtain a commercial driver’s license at age 18, but prevents those drivers from moving goods interstate until they are 21. This restriction on interstate deliveries is particularly problematic in regions like the greater D.C. metro area where an emerging driver would be prohibited from making a quick trip between Arlington, Virginia and Bethesda, Maryland. But the same driver could haul a load from Arlington to Norfolk, Virginia, a more than six-hour drive roundtrip.
“This legislation paves the way for new drivers to sustain a safe and efficient supply chain for the more than one million restaurants and foodservice outlets in the U.S.,” says Mark Allen, president and CEO of IFDA. “This bill also reinforces a culture of safety far and above current standards to provide the next generation of drivers with the critical skills they need to operate a truck in the 21st century.”
“Thank you to Senator Young for introducing a common-sense proposal that will help Stanz and thousands of other distributors recruit the drivers we need to serve our customers more efficiently and ensures the highest possible safety standards for new drivers entering the workforce,” said Mark Harman, President of Stanz Foodservice in South Bend, Indiana and IFDA Treasurer. “Located just five miles from the Michigan-Indiana boarder, our company would benefit immensely from this legislation.”
The DRIVE-Safe Act, officially named the Developing Responsible Individuals for a Vibrant Economy Act, will help train tomorrow’s drivers far and above current standards. Under the legislation, once a driver has met the requirements to obtain a CDL, they may begin a two-step program of additional training which includes rigorous performance benchmarks that each candidate must achieve. The program will require these drivers to complete at least 400 hours of on-duty time and 240 hours of driving time with an experienced driver in the cab with them. All trucks used for training in the program must be equipped with safety technology including active braking collision mitigation systems, video event capture, and a speed governor set at 65 miles per hour or below.
The American Trucking Associations projects the driver shortage to reach more than 174,000 by 2026. In the next decade, 890,000 drivers will be needed to keep pace with growth and demand for freight transportation.
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