Fed Advisory Panel Urges Action on US Driver Shortage

A US Department of Commerce advisory group is urging federal officials to lead a widespread effort to address the nationwide shortage of truck drivers, which the panel said has “likely reached an all-time high,” according to Transport Topics.

“The vital common link for domestic operations and distribution among our air, sea, and land ports is effective truck transportation,” International Trade Administration’s Advisory Committee on Supply Chain Competitiveness said in a draft letter addressed to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo. ITA is part of the Commerce Department.

The 45-member panel is endorsing efforts to allow individuals younger than 21 to drive trucks in interstate commerce, currently prohibited by federal law.

“The department should work with DOT to remove obstacles to domestic goods movement, including but not limited to enabling under-21 commercial driver license (CDL) drivers to handle interstate commerce; addressing driver retention, training and workplace concerns within the industry; and enhancing “last-mile” connectivity options that connect workers with new workplace locations,” the letter said.

American Trucking Associations has estimated the industry is short at least 60,000 drivers. ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello, a member of the ITA panel, cautioned that number could grow in the coming months as more drivers retire and freight volumes increase.

Costello touted the group’s collaborative effort to address the driver shortage.

“The fact that such a diverse group of trucking industry practitioners agrees is very powerful,” he told Transport Topics. “It’s such a broad group of supply chain professionals, and we know we need to attract more people to this industry and make it better for those now in the profession.”

Infrastructure legislation that recently advanced in the U.S. Senate included language to permit younger drivers to operate Class 8 trucks interstate after completing an extensive training program.

Full story here.

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