Congress may block younger drivers

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Congress may vote soon on a measure that would prevent the Department of Transportation from conducting a test of drivers under 21 in interstate operations. The provision is tucked away in the House version of the DOT appropriations bill (H.R. 5559), which would fund the department’s activities through September 2003. The Senate version of the bill (S. 2808), which has yet to pass the Senate, contains no similar language.

The Truckload Carriers Association has proposed a limited pilot program using drivers between 18 and 20 to determine whether and under what circumstances individuals under 21 should be allowed to drive in interstate commerce. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration published TCA’s petition in February 2001 and sought comment. More than 1,600 comments were filed.

The issue could be resolved as early as this month. Congress recessed in October to allow lawmakers to campaign for reelection. Pressing matters, including funding for DOT and other government departments and agencies, will be addressed by a “lame duck” session of Congress, which convenes this month.