DOTHAN, Ala. (WDHN) — Many industries across the board are facing workforce challenges, but one of the few that has been impacted the most is the trucking industry.
“If you go to a fast-food restaurant they may not have a certain item, if you go to the dollar store there is no toilet paper on the shelf, truck drivers are what keep things going, and without, truck drivers move everything around America,” Tabitha Heirs said.
In an effort to reduce the shortage and keep goods moving, The U.S. Department of Transportation is hoping to launch the safe driver apprenticeship pilot- a program that will allow 3,000 18-to 20-year-olds CDL drivers to get major road experience.
“48 states already allow 18 to 20-year-olds within the state border you can drive Dothan to Huntsville but not Dothan to Tallahassee,” said Mark Colson with Alabama Trucking Association.
But the new program will allow them to accomplish that goal and future truck drivers believe it’s a great idea.
“If you’re 18-20 and you have that passion there is no sense of an age to deter somebody from doing something bigger for their career,” Heirs said.
“From this school and the trainers they have here they are gonna get you prepared for it,” Kenneth King said. “You’re not gonna rush through it and think you’re gonna get out the door and get to it they are gonna make sure you’re good in all elements.”
While truck drivers are for the idea, many motorists may have the notion that it’s dangerous with young adults driving 80,000-pound trucks.
“The headline that teenager driving trucks are scary to some but if you go look at the training it’s very rigorous,” Colson said.
Colson said the plan has been finalized and the Department of Transportation is in a comment period right now but soon companies will be able to register for the program.