NYS legislation creates Young Adult CDL program to address truck driver shortage

New York News

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Getting younger truck drivers onto the roads may ease supply chain issues we’ve seen across the country and now in New York.

Local officials say this new law will boost the truck industry in need of help.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul has signed into law legislation to create the Young Adult Commercial Driver’s License, a Class A program for 18 to 20 year olds. Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo said the program will help ease the ongoing truck driver shortage.

“If you’re old enough to serve in the military I think that they should have the privilege of getting into the transportation industry with a CDL,” said Wayne Tearno, Operations Manager of Capitaland Logistics LLC.

Currently, New York allows 18 to 20 year old’s to obtain a CDL Class B license to drive within state lines. However, they are ineligible to apply for a CDL Class A license until they are 21 years old.

This bill will allow 18 to 20 year old’s to obtain their CDL Class A to drive tractor-trailers and other larger vehicles. Lupardo said New York is the last state in the country to allow this opportunity.

Tearno says he has some reservations about the age change.

“If you’re getting someone fresh out of CDL school, they don’t have much road experience and of course it’s just younger decision making,” said he.

Kendra Hems is the President of the New York Trucking Association says this will help with the extensive shortage of truck drivers.

“It really allows us now to start recruiting individuals out of high school and that was a challenge that the industry had when they were trying to fill some of these jobs,” said Hems. 

Hems say it won’t happen overnight for 18-year-olds to get their CDL licenses.

“They have to go through this training program which requires them to have at least 300 hours behind the wheel,” said Hems.

“New York’s trucking industry is central to our state’s economy, ensuring that products make it to market in a timely manner. This legislation will help address the shortage of truck drivers by attracting younger drivers, at a time when many are in the process of choosing their careers,” said Lupardo.

According to the American Transportation Research Institute, the trucking industry is responsible for 1 out of every 27 jobs in New York state. However, due to an aging workforce, there is a need for new drivers, but it is becoming more difficult to recruit commercial drivers.

New young truck drivers won’t be licensed quickly. The program won’t be fully up and running for six months to a year from now.

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