The National Waste & Recycling Association (NWRA) joined other organizations in a letter to Congress urging support for the DRIVE-Safe Act (S.659, H.R.1475). The DRIVE-Safe Act is bipartisan legislation that aims to help 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),” NWRA President and CEO Darrell Smith says. “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 regulation through a 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 is also required to be accompanied by an experienced driver throughout the process.
According to the NWRA, driving for the waste and recycling industry offers numerous advantages over other industries, such as rising wages, a 5-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.