“We need to find ways to expand the pool of safe truck drivers, and ATRI’s preliminary research indicates that safe, younger drivers can be found, “said Joyce Brenny, Brenny Transportation, Inc. CEO.
ATRI, American Transportation Research Institute, released results of the Phase 1 Beta Test of its Younger Driver Assessment Tool exploring if an assessment tool to identify the safest 18-20 year old drivers is possible.
This is a critical step in expanding interstate CDL eligibility to younger drivers as the American Trucking Associations (ATA) have the driver shortage topping 100,000 by the year 2023 based on projected freight growth, industry retirements, and competition from other industries.
What is the trucking industry doing to attract younger drivers?
In hopes to increase the share of younger drivers in the industry, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) proposed an under-21 commercial driver pilot program allowing young drivers aged 18, 19, and 20 to operate commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) in interstate commerce. Currently 18 to 20-year-olds are only allowed to operate intrastate commerce.
Additionally, the proposed infrastructure bill includes initiatives to grow the trucking workforce with an apprenticeship program for drivers younger than 21 to work in interstate commerce, addressing the growing truck driver shortage across the country.
However, one of the concerns with opening the labor pool to younger drivers is that young people are more likely to engage in higher risk driving behaviors.
How will the trucking industry measure young driver safety risk?
Data from the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) indicate that individuals under 24 years of age represented 18.4 percent of drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2017 while representing just 11.8 percent of the licensed driving population that year.
The beta test findings for the Younger Driver Assessment Tool provided limited support for the idea that low risk commercial truck drivers can be identified based on behavioral indicators in their Motor Vehicle Record (MVR) and Pre-Employment Screening Program (PSP) safety records.
In general, and counter to expectations, cognitive functioning was not reliably associated with histories of violations or crashes in the group of 16 drivers used during initial testing.
In the small sample, the truck driving safety profiles of current truck drivers—as measured by motor vehicle records and pre-employment screening data—can be differentiated based on personality traits, physiological characteristics, and aspects of mental health.
With expanded statistical validation, this methodology may be successfully applied to the assessment and selection of new entrants into the industry’s workforce, including younger drivers.
Ultimately, the goal of the assessment tool would be to secure younger drivers with the cognitive and mental attributes of mature, experienced drivers, which based on data implies that they are more likely to be safe drivers.
ATRI’s Phase II assessment will focus on a larger sample of young drivers by recruiting individuals in the 18- to 25-year-old age range from commercial driving schools.