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The Average Truck Driver Is 54. Enter the Teens

California high school training program among the first of its kind
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 20, 2021 10:55 AM CDT

(Newser) – They have fewer years of experience on this planet than the number of wheels on the truck. But that's not stopping California high school students from learning how to drive an 18-wheeler—an opportunity that might help resolve a purported shortage of truck drivers. Patterson High School is one of the first schools in the country offering a truck-driving program for senior students, who learn the ins and outs of truck driving and maintenance through hands-on training, including 30 hours in a driving simulator. It's a small step toward filling what industry insiders say is an increasing void. As instructor Dave Dein tells Inside Edition, "we're short about 63,000 drivers today."

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The supposed shortage, which is in dispute, could top 100,000 drivers by 2028, Lindsey Trent of the nonprofit Next Generation in Trucking Association tells NPR, which reports 25% of current truckers are at or nearing retirement age. The average truck driver, the outlet adds, is 54 years old. "If we don't start promoting trucking to our youth, they only can make decisions on the information that they have," and trucking "comes with a lot of misconceptions" about low pay, risky work conditions, and insufferable hours, Dein says. But he says he enjoyed trucking so much, even after becoming a teacher, that he kept it up as a part-time career.

Eduardo Dominguez-Sotelo, a senior enrolled in the program, says he may also pursue trucking as a part-time career after graduation. "I didn't think that truck driving was for me" but "it actually ended up being a good fit," he tells NPR. Though a commercial driver's license holder must be at least 21 to move goods across state lines, and many insurance companies require truck drivers be at least 25, a Senate bill aims to welcome younger drivers with the introduction of an apprenticeship program, per the Drive. Still, some doubt the impact of such moves when driver retention, a huge issue for the industry, might be solved with better working conditions and a boost in pay. (Read more truck driver stories.)

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