TULSA, Okla. — Teenage truck drivers may soon be helping ease the supply chain backlogs across the country. A new national apprenticeship program is giving truckers 18 to 20 years old the chance to drive freight across state lines. Normally, that age group can only drive a truck within their home state.
There aren’t enough truck drivers and too much to ship. The apprenticeship program, approved by Congress in the recently signed infrastructure bill, aims to allow more truck drivers on the road to help ease the strain.
According to the American Truck Association, the trucking industry is short 80,000 drivers. The goal of this program is to help add drivers to fill those spots. Originally proposed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the program would screen 18 to 20-year-old drivers and then grant them access to drive freight between states.
Some safety advocates argue younger truckers pose a risk on our highways, but the program has strict guidelines and limits on how many can drive over state lines. The director of training at Arbuckle Driving School says this program is a long time coming and his younger students are prepared after completing their training course.
“Training doesn’t change whether they’re 18 or 70. Everybody is trained the same. They get the same safety standards.”
Under the program, young drivers will be required to have a probationary period with an experienced driver in the passenger seat. Trucks must also have electric brakes, forward-facing video cameras, and must not go over 65-miles per hour.
If the program is a success, congress could expand it after it is evaluated over the next three years.
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