Recruiting and retaining enough qualified truck drivers consistently ranks as a top trucking industry concern. There are several factors for this such as the challenging lifestyle, pay rates, and he federal requirement to be 21 years of age before obtaining a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) in order to operate across state lines. This creates a three-year gap following high school during which potential new entrant drivers seek employment in other industries. The DRIVE-Safe Act, first introduced in Congress in 2018 and reintroduced in 2021, would provide an avenue for 18-20 year olds to drive in interstate operations (New York recently passed a similar bill)
Many in the trucking industry view this legislation as a clear pathway to safely integrate younger drivers into trucking careers. However, when discussing allowing younger people to qualify for a CDL, the question about safety always comes up. The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) released the results of the Phase 1 Beta Test of its Younger Driver Assessment Tool. This is the second in a series of technical memoranda from ATRI exploring the potential for an assessment tool to identify the safest drivers among 18-20 year olds, a critical component of expanding interstate CDL eligibility to younger drivers. Results from ATRI’s beta test show promise for the statistically validated assessment to differentiate safer drivers from less safe drivers.
ATRI’s beta test administered a comprehensive assessment battery to current commercial truck drivers. Truck drivers who participated in the assessment represented a broad range of ages (20-60 years old), driving experience and safety performance. Among the measures tested in the assessment were personality traits, reasoning, impulsivity, sensation-seeking, sleep quality, and cognitive control. Participating drivers’ safety performance was evaluated using motor vehicle record and pre-employment screening program data on safety violations and crash involvement.
Among the statistically significant findings, the drivers in the safest group based on their MVR and PSP data had the highest scores on Conscientiousness and Agreeableness, and the lowest scores on Experience-Seeking. Additionally, drivers in the “less safe” group exhibited marginally greater sensitivity to conflict in the Multi-Source Interference Task, indicating difficulties with cognitive control. While ATRI’s beta test only included 16 drivers under the age of 30, the assessment did show sensitivity to age-related variations in performance. The age sensitivity relationship to safety also materialized in older drivers with fewer years of experience, so the assessment tool is attempting to identify younger drivers with the cognitive and mental attributes of mature, experienced drivers.
These are all extremely positive development as the country learned during the pandemic, not all work can be done remotely. First responders and essential workers, like truck drivers, showed up every day to ensure stores were stocked, hospitals were supplied, and first responders were equipped. We need a workforce with the skills and resources able to meet our economic demands and freight haulers are a major part of that. Through in the unaffordability of college and careers in trucking offer a wonderful opportunity for people.