Federal pilot program targets truck driver shortage with military CDL holders

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - A new Federal pilot program is taking aim at the national trucking shortage. That’s an issue not lost among trucking companies in Eastern Iowa.

Trucks drive along Interstate 380 near Cedar Rapids on June 5, 2019 (Brian Tabick/KCRG)

“I could use ten truck driver right now,” Philipp Trucking Supervisor John Roberts said.

Roberts said they’ve needed drivers since he started with the company. He maintains they aren’t alone.

“Everyone around us is in need of more drivers,” Roberts said.

Roberts had five trucks sitting in his lot Wednesday. Each day they aren’t moved he’s losing money.

“Around $6,000 a day,” Roberts said.

Those trucks have been sitting there for the last two weeks. That’s why the US DOT is starting a pilot program which would allow those serving in the military between 18-20 years of age with a military equivalent CDL to drive a truck on the interstate.

“This group is the perfect example,” said Ray Martinez, Administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Current law states you must be 21 or older. This would give the service members a pass. Martinez said there are quite a few branches of the military that would take advantage of this.

“It’s not just active-duty,” he said. “This includes reserves, the National Guard; there’s a lot of folks that fall into that bucket.”

As for Roberts, he’d prefer hiring veterans.

“I’m a veteran myself,” he said. If anyone has an active CDL, boy, girl doesn’t matter, come on down here.”