ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) The person driving that 18-wheeler next to you on the connector may not even be old enough to drink. State law allows people as young as 18 to get behind the wheel of big rigs, and they could be driving futher than before.

Ken Cooper has been driving trucks for decades, but now he also teaches truckers-in-training at Katlaw Truck Driving School.

"Straight-line backing, parallel parking also offset and Allie docking," are just some of the skills learned on the road to getting a commercial drivers license.

"The rule in Georgia is you can actually get a CDL at 18, but if you're going to be crossing state lines they are regulated by the Federal government and they say you have to be 21," said Cooper.

However, the Department of Transportation has proposed the legal age be lowered to 18.

"With this 80,000 pound vehicle, no, no, no," quipped Crystal Brandon, a student at Katlaw Truck Driving School. "I do not want an 18-year-old driving."

"Fill some of those driving jobs that are much needed everywhere. There's some people who are over 21 putting driver safety at risk out there," said Cooper.

He believes lowering the age should also come with a requirement of additional supervised training hours.

"I think for 18-year-old, 19 really should be even more training requirement like an apprenticeship program," said Tansley.

To show just how necessary training is, reporter Brittany Miller got behind the wheel of a big rig for just a few minutes.


Brittany Miller is an Emmy-award winning journalist, who joined CBS46 News in April 2015.

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(1) comment


NO, NO, NO.. The Federal CDL brought far to many "school educated" drivers onto the highways and even those in their 20's and 30's were not trained in the old way learning the rules of the road like I was in the 50's and 60's. 18 year olds do not have the regard for other vehicles when driving their little boom boxes on the roads much less a vehicle that is weighing well over 80,000 lbs. when loaded. the Federal CDL came about when too many drivers of that same ilk were caught using Commercial licenses from numerous states such as New Mexico that one could get with a Post Office box number for a residence and using them for tickets to keep from getting enough points to lose their home state license. 21 years of age is far too often too young in maturity to be driving 80k+ lbs. on the highways tailgating four wheel and other vehicles, speeding, driving in the wrong lanes, weaving in and out of traffic, and just plain driving as if they could stop on a dime like far too many four wheel drivers have also the incorrect idea. when I learned to drive an 18 wheeler we were called "The Knights of The Road" but that went away with the federal CDL license. I carried a NC Commercial license prior to entering the Marine Corps and was tested driving a tractor trailer. In the Marine Corps had a 60 ton vehicle license, and when I lived in Texas also had to take a test in a one ton or over vehicle to get a commercial license. Ga. does not, or did not in the 80's when I moved here with an ICC license, require any driving test for their commercial license. I went to a Motor Vehicle office and asked for a commercial book to take the test and was told I could take it in my sedan that very day and that Ga. had no commercial license manual.

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