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Federal pilot program to allow 18 to 21-year-olds to drive semi-trucks

(WLUC photo)
Published: Feb. 4, 2022 at 6:30 PM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) -Drivers as young as 18-years-old will soon be able to drive semi-trucks across state lines as a part of a federal pilot program. The new program, which is a part of President Biden’s $1 trillion infrastructure bill, looks to reduce truck driver shortages and resolve global supply chain issues.

“I think it’s definitely valuable solutions, probably not the only solution to solve our supply issues and all our truck driving shortage issues. But it’s definitely one way that we can address that issue,” said Amy Lasack, Executive Director of the Continuing Education Programs at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids.

The new federal program will allow 3,000 selected 18-to-21-year-olds to drive coast to coast in a semi-truck. Previously, the contiguous United States allowed this age category to drive semi-trucks within their own state but never across state lines.

“So you can drive from Dubuque to Council Bluffs, but you can’t drive from Dubuque to Galena,” said Lasak.

Many of those in the trucking industry say it was time for this rule to be updated.

The program training is formatted much like a trades apprenticeship. Drivers must complete 400 hours of training with an experienced driver before being able to drive coast-to-coast alone.

“It’s a pretty extensive training module to get these 18 to 21-year-olds prepared to go out on the road,” said Brenda Neville, President of the Iowa Motor Truck Association.

Neville says IMTA is hopeful for the success of the program and eventually turning it into law.

It has not yet been stated when this federal piolet program will begin.

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