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Keeping young drivers safe on the job

By Ashleigh Petersen

August 16, 2023

Young workers — those age 16 to 24 — can be a great asset to a rental business but as they gain experience and develop their driving skills, they may be less likely to recognize and respond to traffic risks. Employers also should be aware that there may be driving limits depending on the employee’s age.

Driving limits

Young workers’ driving restrictions on the job vary by age.

  • Workers 16 years old and under in non-agricultural jobs may not drive for work.
  • 17-year-old workers may drive in non-agricultural jobs, but are limited by time and task.
  • Generally, workers aged 18 to 24 are allowed to drive on the job, but those under age 21 may not drive a commercial motor vehicle across state lines.
Driving time limits for 17-year-olds:

Driving time may not exceed 33 percent of the workday and is limited to daylight hours. Driving time also may not exceed 20 percent of the workweek.

17-year-old workers may not:

  • Make urgent or time-sensitive deliveries.
  • Make route deliveries or route sales.
  • Tow another vehicle.
  • Drive more than a 30-mile radius from the primary place of work.
  • Be hired to transport goods or passengers.
  • Transport more than three passengers, including coworkers.
  • Make more than two trips away from the primary place of work in any single day to transport goods and other employees.
  • Drive as their main job duty.

17-year-old workers may drive on public roads as part of their job on an occasional and incidental basis if they:

  • Successfully complete a state-approved driver education course.
  • Have a valid state driver’s license.
  • Have no record of moving violations when they are hired.
  • Drive a vehicle that does not exceed 6,000 lbs. gross vehicle weight and is equipped with seat belts for all occupants.

Recommended strategies for employers

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends the following strategies for employers to develop programs and policies that follow safe-driving laws for young workers.

Before hiring a young worker to drive:

  • Check that the applicant has a state license valid for the type of driving their work will require.
  • Check the applicant’s driving record for moving violations, impaired driving and license suspensions.
  • Make sure the applicant has completed a state-approved driver education course — if the driver is under age 18.

Before assigning a young worker to drive:

  • Make sure the driving assignment follows state graduated driver licensing (GDL) laws — such as restrictions on night driving and transporting other teens.
  • Provide driver training at the time of hire that includes making young drivers aware of the safety features of the vehicle they will be driving.
  • For less-experienced drivers, consider implementing policies that are more restrictive than the requirements outlined in laws — such as limitations on towing a trailer or driving certain types of vehicles.

Source: NIOSH