In response to Russ Swift’s letter to the editor opposing the DRIVE Safe Act in Congress, he is right about one thing: Any loss of life in any vehicle crash is tragic and stakeholders, especially the trucking industry, need to be serious about highway safety. Which is what we are doing by supporting the provision in the Surface Transportation Investment Act of 2021 (S.2016), that would allow 18- to 20-year-old’s to drive trucks delivering freight across state lines.

Mr. Swift fails to mention that this is not an “experiment” because these drivers have been safely moving freight inside Maine’s borders for decades. In fact, an 18-year-old can take a load of freight from York to Fort Kent (357 miles), but is prohibited from starting in York and going 10 miles to make the same delivery to Portsmouth, New Hampshire. It could be the same freight, but crossing the arbitrary border between states makes the move interstate commerce.

The DRIVE Safe Act would require a mentor to be involved and specific advanced safety technologies to be included with a two-phase, 400-hour apprenticeship program, all designed to improve highway safety. Everyone wants safe roads and encouraging this supervision and guidance early on in a driver’s career will pay safety dividends now and into the future.

Saying the truck driver shortage is a “myth” is absurd. The truth is, the trucking industry is in the same predicament as other essential industries and the DRIVE Safe Act is a good way to further promote safety on our highways today, while delivering economic prosperity into the future.

Brian Parke
President and CEO, Maine Motor Transport Association

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