Federal government to train 18-year-olds to drive big trucks to tackle supply chain issues

The US government will train young truck drivers to address the driver shortage amid the supply chain crisis.

Photo: manolofranco / Pixabay

The federal government will implement an apprenticeship program for young people between the ages of 18 and 20 to drive large trucks across state lines, to address the current supply chain crisis in the United States, announced Fox Business.

According to the information, in most of the states of the union pAllows 18-20 year olds with commercial driver’s licenses to drive trucks within state limits, but the new program will allow up to 3,000 select participants in that age group to haul loads beyond their home states.

The program is sponsored by the Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and allows younger truckers to travel interstate during trial periods of 120 hours and 280 hours, always under the supervision of an experienced driver during trips.

After the trial periods, trainees will be able to drive alone, always monitored by their employer until they turn 21.

The transport sector celebrates the new program, since the industry faces a shortage of about 80,000 truckers in the midst of the current supply chain crisis in the United States.

Nick Geale, vice president of labor policy for the American Trucking Associations, commented: “We support this program because it dramatically raises safety and training standards above the current level”.

For their part, road safety advocates have challenged the pilot’s implementation, citing concerns about having less experienced drivers, who statistically cause more accidents, driving longer distances with 40-tonne rigs.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 5,000 people were killed in accidents involving a large truck in 2020, which makes truck driving one of the most dangerous occupations in the US.

To try to reduce the risks, it transpired that in the program Applicants will not be accepted if they have violations on their record, either for driving while intoxicated or for causing an accident. Participating trainees may not transport passengers or hazardous materials, and are prohibited from operating special configuration vehicles during the program.

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