The trucking industry is always in need of professional drivers who can safely and reliably deliver loads, but during a driver shortage, the urgency to find drivers can lead to innovation. Currently, a pilot program is underway to study the feasibility of allowing drivers as young as 18 to operate on the interstate as long as they have military training.
Additionally, a pilot program has been proposed to allow drivers in their youth to take on interstate hauls as long as the driver either has a CDL and undergoes a 120-hour training course or has previously driven intrastate and has a year of experience.
Although these pilot programs may make some in the industry uneasy, it’s important to remember that even drivers no longer in their youth have all had to learn when they started out. In fact, as noted in Overdrive Online, the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found that older drivers fared about the same as youth drivers when lack of experience was a factor.
The takeaway here is that certain factors, like military service or intensive CDL training, may place a younger driver in a position where he or she is mature and knowledgeable enough to handle the responsibility of interstate hauling. Everyone has to start somewhere, and with the recent driver shortage placing a strain on the industry as a whole, it may be worth considering making changes to regulations and industry standards and expectations.
As with other industries, trucking needs to evolve if it hopes to not only thrive, but also to grow as technology changes the way people receive goods. There will always be a need for trucking, but if owners and drivers can’t make runs on time due to a driver shortage, then customers will take matters into their own hands to innovate. This could mean lost revenue and a major shift in how the industry is expected to operate under increasing pressure to perform.