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Truck Driver Shortage Could Lead to Younger Drivers

 In Trucking Blog

It was recently announced that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is in the process of writing new regulations that will profoundly affect the trucking industry, expected to hit by late 2016. Two dozen new or changed regulations will take place, ranging from electronic logging devices and training provisions to speed limiters and a database of driver drug and alcohol test results.

While the trucking industry has always struggled with finding good drivers, these new regulations will chisel away at productivity. Hundreds of drivers will be disqualified from trucking by 2018. So while the amount of freight will remain the same, an estimated 150,000 more drivers will be needed each quarter.

The truck driver shortage could bring good news to young people interested in trucking, however. In the past, federal regulation has limited them to intrastate trucking until the age of 21. Recently, however, a highway bill has been discussed that would create a pilot program allowing the contiguous states to form “compacts” that could drop the age requirement for interstate drivers operating between those states.

Many argue that trucking companies may be opening themselves up to a greater amount of risk than it’s worth. When hiring for truck driving jobs, no experience candidates could pose additional costs should they get into an accident. Statistics show, that teen drivers typically don’t have the same level of judgment and experience as their older counterparts, and this is especially true behind the wheel.

Testing the idea is Minnesota-based Brenny Transportation. The 55-year old trucking company is known in the trucking world for its extremely low turnover rate and an excellent safety record. The company has recently developed a program to hire and train 18, 19 and 20-year olds.

The program puts drivers with a commercial learner’s permit through 17 weeks of training, starting them out on short, cross-town runs while providing them with mentoring and feedback sessions. They are kept as local drivers until the age of 21, where they are then accompanied by a trainer on their first few over-the-road runs.
While not in place now, regulations could require that in addition to graduating from a training-heavy apprenticeship type program, fleets would be required to use safety technologies to monitor younger drivers.

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