Arlington, VA – The National Waste & Recycling Association (NWRA) joined other organizations on a letter to Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee Chair Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Ranking Member Roger Wicker (R-MS) requesting the committee include the DRIVE-Safe Act in the surface transportation reauthorization legislation currently being considered.
The DRIVE-Safe Act (S.659) is bipartisan legislation that would address the driver shortage facing many industries including waste and recycling. NWRA supported the DRIVE-Safe Act when it first was introduced in 2019. In the 116th Congress, the legislation received support from more than one-third of House and Senate members
“The waste and recycling industry has experienced a growing labor shortage over the past several years, particularly when it comes to hiring individuals with a commercial driver’s license (CDL),” said NWRA President and CEO Darrell Smith. “NWRA backs increasing federal support to address this problem.”
Although 49 states and the District of Columbia currently allow individuals under the age of 21 to obtain a CDL and operate in intrastate commerce, these same individuals are prohibited from driving a truck across state lines until they turn 21. In many instances, these drivers are traveling greater distances intrastate than they would be interstate if they work near their states’ borders.
The DRIVE-Safe Act would change this through a rigorous two-step apprenticeship program that creates a path for these drivers to enter the industry. In order to qualify, candidates must complete at least 400 hours of additional training—more than what is required for any other CDL holder in the nation.
All qualified drivers who participate in the apprenticeship program established by the bill would only be allowed to drive trucks outfitted with the latest safety technology, including active braking collision mitigation systems, forward-facing event recording cameras, speed limiters set at 65 miles per hour or less and automatic or automatic manual transmissions. Professional drivers training within the program are also required to be accompanied by an experienced driver throughout the process.
Driving for the waste and recycling industry offers numerous advantages such as rising wages, a five-day work week, set daily work schedules and the ability to return home at the end of each day’s shift unlike long-haul drivers. Despite all this, the industry’s companies are increasingly struggling to find enough CDL drivers.