Please note: As of January 20, 2021, information in some news releases may be out of date or not reflect current policies.

News Release

Archived News Release — Caution: Information may be out of date.


Employment Standards Administration

ESA Press Release: Change in Child Labor Law Restricts 16-year-olds from Driving on Public Roads While on the Job but More Driving Allowed for 17-year-olds [11/18/1998]

For more information call: (202) 693-0023

A new law went into effect Oct. 31 prohibiting 16-year-olds from driving on public roads while working and increasing the allowable on-the-job driving time for 17-year-olds, but with specific restrictions. The changes were made in an amendment to federal child labor laws passed by Congress this year.

Previously, 16 and 17-year-olds could do occasional on-the-job driving for such things as running errands or making deliveries. Now, 16-year-olds may not drive on public roads as part of their job and 17-year-olds may drive as much as one-third of their work day or 20 percent of their workweek.

Seventeen-year-olds may as part of their job drive cars and light trucks but only during daylight hours. The teen worker must hold a state license valid for the type of driving being performed, have successfully completed state-approved driver education and have no record of any moving violation at the time of hire.

In addition, the driving performed by the 17-year-old employee may not involve:

  • towing vehicles;
  • route deliveries or route sales;
  • -- the transportation for hire of property, goods, or passengers;
  • urgent, time-sensitive deliveries;
  • transporting more than three passengers, including employees of the employer;
  • driving beyond a 30 mile radius from youth's place of employment;
  • more than two trips away from the primary place of employment in any single day for the purpose of delivering the employer's goods to a customer;
  • more than two trips away from the primary place of employment in any single day for the purpose of transporting passengers, other than employees of the employer.

Driving must also be only occasional and incidental to the 17-year-old's employment. This means no more than one-third of the youth's work time in any workday and no more than 20 percent of the youth's work time in any workweek may be spent driving.

The Department of Labor is developing guidelines and information to help employers comply with the law. The new rules apply whether the 17-year-old is driving a personal or employer-owned vehicle. Employers may wish to obtain documentation of the employee's age, clean driving record and driver's license to avoid violations.

The Teen Drive for Employment Act became law Oct. 31. The act amends the child labor provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

Many states have laws setting standards for child labor and teen drivers. When both federal and state laws apply, the law setting the more stringent standard must be observed.

Information about child labor laws may be found on the Internet at or by calling the local office of the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor listed in the blue pages.

Archived News Release — Caution: Information may be out of date.

Employment Standards Administration
November 18, 1998
Media Contact: David Roberts
Phone Number