16 Journal of Regulatory Compliance Vol. I
Wage data, therefore, may be misleading in any attempt to diagnose
natural wage stagnation as a cause of the shortage. What role might
regulations play in holding back market forces from correcting the shortage?
One regulation that would obviously affect supply is state and federal
licensure requirements. Those requirements, if tailored narrowly, could help
address safety externalities arising from the size and mass of the trucks in
question, as well as the skills necessary to operate them safely. If applied
broadly, however, the economic principles of increasing marginal costs and
decreasing marginal benefits would guarantee that licensure requirements
would quickly become a source of government failure. 46
The likelihood of achieving the optimal level of regulation through the
mechanism of government is slim, given the absence of many of the essential
incentives that allow markets to achieve efficiency. 47 In the case of licensure
requirements, one example should be sufficient to illustrate that the
regulations are beyond the level necessary to correct any market failure.
Specifically, while a driver may obtain a state license to drive commercial
vehicles at age 18, federal law declares anyone under the age of 21 to be
unqualified48 and prohibits anyone covered by the regulations from hiring
someone in that age group as a truck driver. 49 To be clear, even if the young
driver would only be driving the intrastate portion of a route, if the goods
originated outside the state or will end up outside the state, federal regulations
apply and the young driver cannot be employed. 50 As a result, prospective
truck drivers in this age group will have difficulty finding employment at
The Transformation of Truck Transportation, INBOUND LOGISTICS (Sept. 2004),
46. A private-ordering analog to official licensure requirements that experiences the same
reduction in efficacy as its magnitude is increased tort liability. As liability for truck driving
accidents rises, the total cost of employing a truck driver—including risk of legal liability—
increases, as well. Employers will be more particular about who they hire, requiring that
potential employees provide evidence of skill and training, potentially above that required by
government licensure rules.
47. McKean, supra note 2, at 497–501 (describing the government mechanisms that
provide second-best alternatives to market incentives).
48. 49 C.F.R. § 391.11(b)( 1). That limitation is subject to certain exceptions. 49 C.F.R.
49. 49 C.F.R. § 391.11(a).
50. See William B. Cassidy, US Senate Bill Asks Whether 18-year-olds Should Drive
Heavy Trucks, JOC.COM (June 29, 2015), http://www.joc.com/regulation-
year-olds-should-drive-heavy-trucks_20150629.html. Signed in December 2015, the Fixing
America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act authorizes a pilot program for interstate
compacts wherein the ban on young truck drivers crossing state lines could be eliminated by
specific agreements between states. Pub. L. 114-94, Section 5404 (codified as amended in
scattered sections of 12 U.S. C., 16 U.S. C., 22 U.S. C., 23 U.S. C., 26 U.S. C., 40 U.S. C., 42
U.S. C., and 49 U.S. C.). Because these age restrictions have strong protectionist characteristics,
it is likely any attempt at an interstate compact will face opposition rent-seeking pressures.