LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Teenage drivers can make you a little white-knuckly when you’re on the road with them. A new program is paving the way to get them behind the wheel of a big rig.
If you want your grocery store fully stocked, someone must get those items to the store. Currently, truck drivers are in short supply and now younger drivers are being targeted, like Daisy Rodriguez who is at Ahern Advanced Career Training.
“We are prepared — as prepared as you can be, of course,” Rodriguez said.
She is 20 years old, and she is attending class five days a week for five weeks to get her commercial driver's license. She must pass a series of six tests.
“We do all go through the proper training so regardless of our age we are still getting the same amount of training as someone older would,” Rodriguez said.
The infrastructure law now requires an Apprenticeship Pilot Program. This allows drivers like Daisy, between the ages of 18 to 20 with an intrastate commercial driver’s license, which is only within state lines, to operate interstate, which is out of state lines, under very specific conditions.
Lloyd Benson the president of Ahern ACT, is working on adopting this new program. His training facility is getting mentors to help train apprentices in this age group on the road.
“We not only want to make sure that they get home to their families at the end of the day, but everyone that they encounter out on the road that they get home safely to their families as well,” Benson said.
Ahern ACT is the only training facility in Nevada to have a semi-truck simulator. Students like Rodriguez get a real feel of what it's like to be behind the wheel before hitting the open road.
“It makes them safer when they initially get into the truck for the first time,” Benson said.
Paul Enos, the president of the Nevada Trucking Association, says these 18- to 20-year-olds need 280 hours of driving and 400 hours of training with an experienced driver.
The semi-truck must be limited to 65 miles per hour and have the latest safety protection equipment.
“We need to make sure we have that pipeline of younger drivers coming in to meet all of our freight needs, because right now with 80,000 drivers short, we are going to see that number go up as the demand goes up,” Enos said.
This call for help is exactly why Rodriguez wants to buckle up and drive.
“It is a problem for us right now, so I do think getting younger drivers on the road will be an asset,” she said.