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Pilot program to allow drivers as young as 18 drive semi trucks across state lines

Posted at 7:47 AM, Feb 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-28 07:47:11-05

(WXYZ) — The U.S. government is setting up a new program that will allow drivers as young as 18-years-old drive semi trucks across state lines.

This program comes as the trucking industry faces a shortage nationwide.

To become a truck driver you do need a certification, a clean driving record and to be supervised by an experienced driver.

20-year-old Tommie Nelson says he wished this program was around when he was younger.

"I wanted to drive a truck since freshman year of high school," he said.

That's because his dad was a truck driver.

"I always see him driving so it inspired me to drive," Nelson said.

Five months ago, Tommie graduated from Anbeyon Truck Driving School on Detroit's west side.

He's getting ready to travel the country coast to coast.

"Florida, Texas, Vegas, and I'd say California too. Places that are hot," he said.

Chris Telle Tillerson Nelson says the trucking school has seen an increase of younger drivers looking to get out on the road.

"We have about 7 to 15 people, younger people, call a week asking to come to school to get their CDL's," he said. "The face is definitely changing and it's youth. It's younger people"

The Michigan trucking association says there are 239,000 trucking jobs in the state.

In 2021 the American Trucking Association estimated that there's a shortage of 80,000 truck drivers and with younger drivers comes less experience.

Some groups like the Trucking Safety Coalition are against younger drivers and the apprenticeship pilot program.