Employers Must Protect Teen Drivers From Harm

Posted on September 10, 2013

One section of the workforce that maybe doesn’t get a lot of attention from media reports is young commercial drivers.  When one thinks of commercial driving, they tend to think of long-haul commercial trucking, but that’s far from the only type of work available, especially among younger demographics.  Teenagers and young adults might be asked to drive food delivery trucks, to transport packages, or to get behind the wheel of any number of commercial automobiles.

Concerned about the number of young commercial drivers who may be on the road without the proper training or steps taken to ensure their safety, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has released an important fact sheet that employers can turn to prior to and after making a hire.  The tips on hand can be implemented in order to prevent accidents and attendant personal injuries on the road.

Employers first have to understand some of the limitations that are placed upon those drivers that are still considered minors.  Though the specific rules may vary on a state by state basis, the Fair Labor Standards Act sets rules that are in practice across the country for drivers under 18.

For instance, drivers can only drive in daylight and not before completing a driver’s education course that has been approved by the state.  They must have a license and a clean record, and when applicable, the teen’s work duties must fall within the bounds of the state’s graduated licensing program.  The driving itself must be incidental; that means they can’t be hired specifically for driving.  The act must take up less than one fifth of their overall work time.

Teens are also prohibited from driving more than 30 miles away or leaving the place of employment more than twice in a day for any one task.  Teen drivers cannot tow vehicles or transport goods that have a deadline (delivering food would thus be unacceptable).  Finally, no more than four people, including the driver, can reside in the vehicle while the young person is driving.

Once hired, the teen should be trained on proper skills and operation if they’re going to be tasked with being behind the wheel.  Evaluations should take place on a regular basis to make sure teens are keeping up on their skills, and this can be supplemented with refresher training after two years of employment.

Policies should stress such safe road practices as buckling up a seatbelt when driving for the company and staying within hours of service laws meant to keep young drivers safe.  Phones should not be tolerated, nor should any intake of alcohol or drugs prior to driving a company automobile.

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