America's beverage companies’ drivers are some of the most recognizable employees in the industry. These men and women serve our communities every day by delivering a wide range of products to corner bodegas, neighborhood grocery stores and mom and pop stops. However, did you know that there is a shortage of qualified commercial drivers?
In an effort to address this shortage, we are part of a multi-industry coalition supporting the DRIVE-Safe Act (S. 569, H.R. 1374), which would increase the pipeline of eligible drivers. This legislation has bipartisan and bicameral support to allow those under 21 years-of-age an opportunity to obtain a commercial driver's license (CDL). The American Trucking Association estimates that the nation needs an additional 50,000 truck drivers immediately, with this shortage expected to grow to more than 174,000 by 2026.
The DRIVE-Safe Act requires individuals to participate in a strict workforce training program with rigorous safety and training benchmarks. To gain certification, drivers must have spotless driving records and accompany a CDL-certified driver for 400 hours in the cab, with at least 240 hours being behind the wheel. Vehicles used in the program would be required to have the latest safety technology, including: active braking collision mitigation systems; forward-facing event recording cameras; speed governors set at 65 miles per hour or less; and automatic or automatic manual transmissions. These apprenticeship requirements ensure well-qualified drivers are on the roads transporting our industry's products.
This piece of legislation not only has support across the aisle, but a diverse coalition of businesses and trade associations are also backing the bill. The reason for such broad support is simple: the DRIVE-Safe Act would lessen delivery costs and allow for fairer prices for everyday products in the grocery aisle. And just as important, this bill would widen opportunity for a new generation of drivers to find good-paying jobs with good benefits.