Essential industry in need of drivers

Companies rely on drivers to transport food and other consumer items daily. While trucking is an essential industry, there is an increasing shortage of drivers across the nation.

Advanced Minnesota Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) Instructor Jason Surface has over 20 years of experience as a driver for local companies. Over the last two decades there has been a 20% shortage, with the need for drivers now at 43%, he said.

There are many factors contributing to the shortage of drivers. In 2017, the federal government mandated drivers use electronic logs to track hours. Surface explained that by law, a driver can work a 14-hour shift, of which 11 hours can be spent driving per day, with 10 hours between shifts.

Electronic logging prevents drivers from “cheating” their hours and driving too long. The FMCSA anticipates a 43% increase in freight for the next 20 years. The increasing demand for consumer goods and the inability to move freight throughout the night is what Surface believes has jumped the shortage.  

The retirement of the baby boomers is also contributing to the driver shortage. Recruiting the next generation of drivers is imperative, Surface said.  

In 2020, regulations will require drivers to attend schooling to obtain a CDL. Many trucking firms are already requiring completion of classroom training for insurance purposes, Surface added.

Upcoming CDL class in Aitkin

Advanced Minnesota will be offering both Class A and Class B CDL classes at Aitkin County Growth (316 1st Ave. NW, Aitkin) from Aug. 12-28. The training offers a night and weekend program. Hours on Mondays and Wednesdays are 5-10 p.m., and Saturdays from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

There are 25 slots available, and registration is preferred by Aug. 7 on a first-come, first-served basis. Register in person at Northeast MN office of Job Training.

A DOT drug screening and DOT physical must be completed prior to the class.

Scholarships are available. Assistance is dependent on qualifying and if funds are available. Call Kari Paulson at 218-735-6121 or Amanda Voller at 218-735-6120.

The three-week class and 25-50 hour behind the wheel program will provide attendees with the information and driving skills necessary to successfully pass the CDL exam given by the Minnesota Department of Motor Vehicles.  One-on-one behind the wheel scheduled time with an instructor is arranged between the instructor and student.

For questions contact Mike Knapp at 218-322-2459 or mike.knapp@ad Surface can be reached at 218-910-6707.

(1) comment

Paul Eberhardt

Driverless long haul trucks make more sense every day. I picture chains of a dozen or so drafting each other going exactly the same speed (probably relatively slow, like 55 mph), pulling into massive depots in the space between the highways where a driver hops in and navigates the tricky last few miles.

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