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Many Commercial Drivers License Training Programs At Capacity As Truck Driver Shortage Worsens

The trucking industry says it is short some 80,000 drivers. That's a 33% increase in two years.

Roadmaster Drivers Schools trains truck drivers at numerous sites across the country, including one in Columbus. President Brad Ball said many commercial drivers license (CDL) schools like his are at capacity.

“The schools out there are just not able to produce enough to replace the drivers that retired in 2020 and are continuing to retire," said Ball. "Demand is exceeding supply.”

Despite the fact many truck driving schools are full, the national trucking industry expects its shortage to double in the next several years. Ball said the shortage comes as trucking companies have made historic pay increases in the past year, as part of an effort to make truck driving more attractive.

The Drive Safe Act under the recently passed federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal may allow for a pilot program for 18-20 year-olds with CDL licenses to carry goods across state lines. Drivers under 21 have not been allowed to do so since the 1930's.

Ball said if the pilot is successful, that could lead to a larger pool of candidates.

“And assuming that that pilot program goes well, it seems that the industry will have the ability to start recruiting more people right out of high school, rather than waiting until they’re 21 years old,” said Ball.

The pilot program will allow for 3,000 18-20 year-olds to try truck driving over a three-year period. If the program is successful, Ball said high schools will then need to promote truck driving as a viable career path.

“Right now, trucking is not an option for high school seniors getting ready to figure out what they want to do in life," said Ball. "They have to go find something else to do for several years before they can consider trucking because there’s not a lot of opportunity.”

Ultimately, to meet such high demand, Ball said there will need to be more CDL training schools created.

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