A Truckload Carriers Assn. panel is researching alternative labor pools to solve the driver shortage problem.
The Driver Recruitment and Retention Management Panel, chaired by Ronnie Dowdy of Ronnie Dowdy Trucking, wants to look beyond the young white males that traditionally have supplied trucking companies with drivers.
Panel members have already met with the Black Caucus and also plan to meet with the Hispanic Caucus. The panel wants to meet with the Department of Labor to try to get the profession of truck driving classified as "skilled" rather than "unskilled" to make it a more attractive job.
The panel is working on a younger driver pilot program, which would let drivers under 21 years old drive if they receive a year of specialized training. To qualify, young drivers would have to have exemplary safety records in their personal vehicle. The program would require attendance at a 22-week or 440-hour training course certified by the TCA subsidiary Professional Truck Driver Institute, an eight-week driver finishing program at participating carriers, and another 18 weeks of team driving before the young driver is allowed behind the wheel on his or her own.
Dowdy has been meeting with insurance companies to get input and support for the proposal. Meetings are also being scheduled with the U.S. Department of Transportation on the subject.