Trucker shortage pushes younger drivers into truck driving programs


A trucker shortage is pushing the industry to allow younger drivers to help.

But safety advocates are concerned that it will result in more crashes on the road.

A new program allows 18 to 20 years old to drive big semi-trucks over state lines.

Truck schools in the area have not seen people as young as that joining their ranks, but have seen an increase in students 21 and older joining the truck driving program since businesses have added incentives to try and get workers.

They are also expecting an increase in younger people too.

Felipe Moreno, 20, is a student at Classic Traffic School in Fort Myers.

“I like driving a lot so that’s why I wanted to get my CDL,” Moreno said.

Now, when he gets that commercial diver’s license he just might be able to drive a rig across state lines.

To ensure there are enough trucks on the road, congress, as part of its infrastructure bill, is set to expand its Safe Driver Apprenticeship Program.

“The future looks much brighter for 18-year-olds than yesterday,” said Peterson Registre, administrator at Classic Traffic School.

Those drivers accepted will be monitored by a forward-facing video camera and not be allowed to travel more than 65 miles an hour, no matter the speed limit.

But is that enough to ensure their safety and the safety of everyone else on the road?

“You are safer. driving next to the truck driver. Okay, always because the extensive of training that we receive,” said Registre.

But Cathy Chase, president advocate for Highway and Auto Safety, disagrees.

She said it makes no sense for, statistically, the most dangerous drivers to get behind the wheel of an 80,000-pound rig and go on long trips.

Right now, drivers under 21 can only drive within state lines.

Moreno can’t wait to start.

“We need the truck drivers because, without the truck drivers, America don’t move,” Registre said.

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