NJ lawmaker wants to lower truck license age

As the trucking industry struggles to attract new drivers to meet growing demand for goods, a New Jersey congressman has co-sponsored a bill to expand labor opportunities for young people.

A truck driver himself at the time, Assemblyman Michael Torrissi, R-Atlantic, said he understands college isn’t for everyone, so it would be beneficial for high school graduates to be offered a chance in the trucking industry.

Currently, drivers must be at least 21 years old to obtain a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). But he said there are so many jobs in the trucking industry available outside of high school for 18-year-olds. Unfortunately, they are not allowed to obtain such a license.

“We miss that age gap between 18 and 21. I think there are a lot of young people who can start a good career instead of starting college and starting different careers who may already be in the job market. work,” Torrissi said.

The young driver program would bring more attention to careers in the industry while allowing government and industry stakeholders to collaborate on issues related to driver training, insurance and retention, he added.

Torrissi said he was not talking about young children driving a sleeper truck or a big trailer that travels all over the country. There are many jobs, from working for the township or the state, to delivering food, milk, ice cream, and more to local stores.

He said it’s so important to promote work opportunities for young people who pay well, don’t need a four-year degree, offer benefits and promotions.

Come winter, there will be a need for snowplow trucks, pothole patrol trucks, and more. A CDL license is still required for drivers to operate these vehicles, but he said there is no reason why an 18-year-old cannot learn to drive such a truck.

“This bill would allow us to hire 18 to 21 year olds to get jobs now,” he said. Torrissi has also spoken with many vocational and technical schools in the state who support the inclusion of a CDL licensing course in the curriculum. These children would receive the necessary education and would be allowed to finish their studies.

He is also moving forward with a bill to not only equip young people with a CDL license but also to help them become diesel and auto mechanics. Even if someone decides to go the EV route, it still needs to be serviced, so more mechanics are needed.

Having a CDL license means higher wages for people, sending them on a very viable career path in the trucking industry, Torrissi said.

The bill, which is also sponsored by Congresswoman Angela V. McKnight, D-Jersey City, has been referred to the Assembly’s Transportation and Independent Authorities Committee where it awaits further action.

Jen Ursillo is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach her at [email protected]

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