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The Smart Road to Hiring Younger Truckers

While statistics should that drivers under 21 have a higher rate of fatal crashes, pilot programs that include graduated licensing systems hope to dispel some of the concern surrounding younger drivers.

The best approach to getting younger drivers behind the wheel of interstate trucks might be through an apprentice program. CEO and founder of Minnesota-based Brenny Transporatation/Brenny Specialized offers an award-winning program that hires and trains 18-, 19- and 20-year olds.

Brenny's program offers a 17-week training period for those with a commercial license prior to any solo runs. Then, drivers are offered short, same-town local runs until the age of 21. Once older than 21, a trainer will accompany the trucker on a few over-the-road trips.

Con-way Freight also has a specialized program for amateur truckers; it hires candidates initially as dockworkers and then places them in an in-house driving program for three months before they take their commercial license exam.

Graduated licensing is proven to be effective in reducing the risk of young, passenger vehicle operators. With the trucking industry still facing an uphill climb toward sufficient employment, it looks like a good time to attempt a similar approach in trucking.

American Trucking Associations (ATA) Executive Vice President Dave Osiecki said, "This is the way we should be training, not just new truck drivers, but individuals in all fields. States participating in the compacts this bill envisions could limit the types of cargo drivers could haul, require extra technologies or restrict these trips to certain routes or times."

"At a time when the unemployment rate for young adults is nearly triple the national average -- and our industry is looking to replace millions of soon-to-be retiring drivers as part of an aging workforce, this bill could be a tremendous boon not just to the trucking industry, but to the economy and to thousands of unemployed young people who might just find their next career."