MOTOR VEHICLE SAFETY AT WORK

Young Drivers at Work

young drivers at work banner

Young workers – those age 16-24 – are developing their driving skills and gaining experience. Due to inexperience they may be less likely than older drivers to recognize and respond to traffic risks. Employers and parents/guardians can play an important role in keeping young drivers safe on the road.

Did you know?
Motor vehicle crashes account for 25% of work-related deaths among workers age 16-24. Keep young drivers safe at work.

May is Global Youth Traffic Safety Month. Use our animated image to promote young driver safety.

Young Drivers Fact Sheet
First page of NIOSH numbered document 2017-207

Employers and parents can use our fact sheet to keep young drivers safe on the road.

What do we know about young drivers in the workplace?
  • Young workers’ driving restrictions on the job vary by age.
    • Workers age 16 and under in non-agricultural jobs may not drive for work.
    • Workers age 17 may drive in non-agricultural jobs, but are limited by time and task.
    • Generally, workers age 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.1
  • Drivers age 16 to 24 have the highest rates of involvement in fatal crashes per 100,000 licensed drivers, in the general population.2
  • From 2013-2017, 679 workers age 16 to 24 died in motor vehicle crashes at work, accounting for 37% of all work-related deaths in this age group.3
What labor laws affect young workers who drive as part of their jobs?

Federal child labor laws limit the amount of driving 17-year-old workers can do in non-agricultural jobs.4 (Laws that cover agricultural jobs apply only to workers under age 16.) Driving time may not exceed 33% of the workday and is limited to daylight hours. Also, driving time may not exceed 20% of the workweek. Check our fact sheet for examples of driving time limits. Check your state’s child labor laws for possible additional restrictions.5

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 (e.g., speeding) at the time of hire
  • Drive a vehicle that does not exceed 6,000 pounds gross vehicle weight and is equipped with seat belts for all occupants

17-year-old workers may not:

  • Make urgent or time-sensitive deliveries, such as pizza 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 3 passengers, including employees of the employer
  • Make more than 2 trips away from the primary place of work in any single day to transport goods and other employees
  • Drive as their main job duty
How can you keep young workers safe when they drive on the job?

Employers: Use recommended strategies 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 (e.g., 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 (e.g., limitations on towing a trailer or driving certain types of vehicles).

Parents: Take the following actions to model safe-driving behaviors and discuss driving expectations.

  • Schedule on-the-road driving sessions to assess driving skills.
    • Help your young driver learn to recognize traffic risks, anticipate risky situations and quickly spot developing problems.
  • Know the law.
    • Familiarize yourself with child labor laws that limit young workers’ driving on the job, and share this information with your young driver.
    • Learn about state graduated driver licensing (GDL) laws that may affect your young driver’s ability to drive for work in some situations. GDL restrictions are designed to keep novice drivers safe.
  • Discuss driving-related tasks involved in your young worker’s job.
    • Ask if their employer has policies, procedures, and job training for the safe operation of motor vehicles. If these have not been discussed or provided to your young driver, make sure they ask their supervisor for guidance.
Sources
149 CFR §391.11external icon and 49 United States Code (USC) 31132external icon
2NHTSA [2018]. Traffic Safety Facts 2016external icon. Table 62. Driver Involvement Rates in Fatal Crashes per 100,000 Licensed Drivers.
3BLS [2019]. Census of Fatal Occupational Injuriesexternal icon, 2013-2017. Event or exposure by age.
4United States Department of Laborexternal icon (See HO 2 on page 12)
5Youth Rules!external icon

Banner Photo by ©2012 Mats Silvan/Thinkstock

Page last reviewed: September 30, 2019