Tuesday, July 14, 2015

"I'm 18, I get confused every day" - Alice Cooper

Someday, I hope to understand how certain people think, and how, when they go to think about something, they forget what they were like when they were 18.

Now, I love people of all ages, and 18 is a pretty good age.  It was for me. I finished high school (owing in no small part to a reluctance among the faculty to see me looming in their classroom doors again that fall) and I had a union job at the A&P that paid pretty sweet and I had friends to run around and guzzle beer meditate on the meaning of life with and I was a volunteer firefighter and that summer alone, I had three different women ask me to get married.

The fact that they were my mother, my sister and my grandmother takes nothing away from what a happy dude I was at 18.

But I was not responsible enough to get behind the wheel of a big rig semi and roar across the nation's highways, no Siree Bob.  

However, right now, some people in Congress (I won't mention what party they're with, but you can guess) are proposing to change the regulations that so far have kept you and me alive to allow people as young as 18 to roll 18 wheels under 16 tons.

Right now, you have to be 21 to drive a truckload of turnips to the Buy Bye Bye warehouse, but these senators want to allow an unlimited amount of contiguous states that join together in "compacts" to drop the age limit to 18 for interstate trips.  

That means if Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania sign such a deal, that goofy kid down the street could be pushing a big Mack from Portsmouth to Williamsport, from Hershey to Harrisonburg, or from St Mary's PA to St Mary's County, MD.  And probably without stopping or even slowing down very much!

The Senate plan would allow them to start careers careering up and down the roads, and then after four years, the Secretary of Transportation would be required to see whether teens have "an equivalent level of safety" in comparison with older truckers.

In 2013, drivers aged 18-20 were in 66 percent more fatal traffic accidents than drivers 21 and over.  

You want to see an 18-year old driving this?  Like
the kid down the street who races to pick up
his girlfriend at 127 miles an hour?
But there's a shortage of truck drivers, because everyone these days is breaking their neck to enter the burgeoning fields of computer repair, forensic investigation at gooey crime scenes, and running for US president.  So, instead of trying to get mature individuals to stop watching "Judge Mablean" all afternoon and start driving truckloads of velour track suits to WalMarts so people could dress right for the casinos, the trucking industry is choosing to get the Senate to allow callow youths to drive 82 hours a week behind the wheel of a giant tractor-trailer. 

The hope here is that Congress will hear from the public and let teenagers drive their parents crazy in every state, instead of driving trucks along the interstate.

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