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East Texas CDL school warns demand for truck drivers could get worse

“The need for drivers is just going to extra sky rocket.”
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Published: Jan. 27, 2022 at 6:39 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 27, 2022 at 6:43 PM CST
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CARTHAGE, Texas (KLTV) - Since the start of the pandemic, East Texans have seen empty shelves, delayed shipping, and an increase in prices for goods, partially due to the nationwide truck driver shortage.

“The truck driving shortage is very, very serious right now,” Rapid CDL Truck Driving School General Manager Brent Griffith said.

According to the American Trucking Association, there was already a truck driver shortage before the pandemic started, but it’s up about 30% since then.

Now, the federal government is trying to help.

The new Safe Driver Apprenticeship Pilot Program will allow 18-year-olds to drive semi-trucks across state lines with an experienced driver. Previously, 49 states and Washington D.C. allowed those under 21 years old to get CDL’s, but they could only drive within their state.

“Well, now the new policy is changing, the apprenticeship allows them to drive to Kansas, allows them to drive to other states with a driver,” Griffith said.

“That don’t tell you the shortage of drivers that they’re letting 18 to 20 year olds drive across country with somebody else, then there’s something wrong with that, so they implemented that, and it’s going to help,” Griffith said.

“I’ve never had this many people, many companies call us, especially in the last couple weeks,” Griffith said. But coming up on February 7, new federal requirements for entry-level driver training for the CDL goes into effect.

“All these trucking companies are under the FMCSA regulations, and they got emails, and they know it’s coming, so that’s why they’re calling the truck driver schools trying to get drivers.”

According to the AMA, there is a need for about 80,000 more truck drivers to keep supplies coming and going like they should.

“But what is troubling is they’re projecting that this will double to 160,000 in 2030,” UT Tyler Professor of Marketing Barbara Ross Wooldridge said.

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