Truck drivers aren’t entitled to overtime because of 84-year-old law

Truck drivers aren’t entitled to overtime because of 84-year-old law

What is the right age to become a commercial truck driver?

While there is a minimum age requirement for becoming an interstate truck driver — in most cases, to be eligible for interstate driving employment, you need to be at least 21 years old — one of the great things about professional truck driving is that there is no maximum age cutoff point.

No federal or government regulations are limiting the maximum age of commercial drivers. If you’re older, as long as you can meet the CDL requirements, pass the medical examiner’s test and meet the basic physical fitness requirements, you shouldn’t have any problems becoming a commercial driver. A background check and a good driving record are required as well for most positions. A skills test can help you decide if trucking is right for you.

Thousands of men and women enter the trucking industry at an older age. The average age of American CDL drivers is currently around 49 years old, and it is not uncommon at all for people in their 50s and 60s to get their CDL and start driving.

So, what age-related restrictions does trucking have?


Deregulation hurt drivers

Upon signing the 1980 Motor Carrier Act, President Jimmy Carter declared that customers would save as much as $8 billion annually (nearly $30 billion today, adjusted for inflation) with the passing of the bill. 

Inflation certainly eased due to deregulation, but truck drivers became collateral damage.

Drivers in the late 1970s earned salaries equivalent to six figures nowadays. The majority were unionized. Now, according to Wayne State University economics professor Michael Belzer, only about 10% of truck drivers are unionized, slashing benefits and making working conditions less desirable. Drivers earn around $48,310 a year, according to federal data.

What does this have to do with the Fair Labor Standards Act or the new bill, you ask?

Truck drivers today earn about half of what they w
Truck drivers today earn about half of what they would in the 1970s. (Photo: Shutterstock)

When politicians excluded truck drivers from overtime protections in 1938, they were covered by the 1935 law that outlined their working hours. In 1966, an amendment to the FLSA again codified that truck drivers would be excluded. In both eras, drivers were among the best-paid blue-collar workers. 

Legislators apparently haven’t considered in 56 years why truck drivers are still excluded from the overtime protection.

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