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New pilot program allows drivers 18-20 to earn CDLs to address trucker shortage

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Truck driving schools, including those in Central Florida, are applauding federal efforts to address a nationwide driver shortage.

A pilot program that’s part of President Joe Biden’s recently signed infrastructure bill will soon allow 18-to-20-year-olds to get their commercial licenses.

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Officials said it’s a major step in addressing the supply chain issues we’ve all been dealing with this year.

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In as little as four weeks, schools can take someone with no trucking experience and have them trained and ready to get out on the road. Soon, those graduates can be as young as 18.

Through a tightly regulated three-year pilot program, 3,000 drivers ages 18 to 20 can earn CDLs.

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Right now, younger drivers can only haul goods within Florida. It’s a rule that many see as contributing to an 80,000-driver shortage.

There are also a host of required safeguards, such as pairing the trainee with an experienced driver no younger than 26 for a probationary period. Each truck must be equipped with specific safety features.

Industry experts said if no measures are taken, they expect the truck driver shortage to double by 2030 to 160,000 drivers.

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Adam Poulisse, WFTV.com

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.

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