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The state of Missouri recently instituted a pilot program to authorize younger commercial vehicle operators behind the wheel of commercial vehicles. Missouri Governor Mike Parson is one of several governors in the United States to allow for the lowered age from age 21 to age 18 as part of “Operation Open Roads Initiative” developed in November. This recommendation came just days after the pilot program was announced as part of the Infrastructure Bill.

The minimum age of 18 to obtain a commercial driver’s license applies in 49 states, but there is a limitation. Since the federal minimum age is 21, a commercial vehicle operator under the age of 21 is not permitted to cross state lines, or otherwise engage in interstate commerce.

The new pilot program included in the Infrastructure Bill will allow drivers between the ages of 18 and 20 to obtain a commercial driver’s license provided that they accumulate 240 hours of driving time accompanied with an experienced driver. 

Many in the industry are not supportive of the reduced age citing safety as a major concern. Some groups have indicated that younger drivers have a higher propensity for accidents, but proponents of the lowered driving age cite the truck driver shortage which has been estimated to be as much as 80,000 drivers. This measure to permit younger drivers to operate commercial vehicles is also in response to supply chain problems plaguing various businesses.

Governor Parson has issued an order creating a special task force to review other possible solutions. It is unknown at this time whether the task force has met and rendered any official findings to date.

Article written by Co-Founder Principal Attorney Don O’Keefe | Gausnell, O’Keefe & Thomas, LLC

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