Editor’s Note: Letter is attached here
Assemblyman Jeff Gallahan (R,C-Manchester) and several of his Assembly Minority colleagues have written a letter calling on Gov. Kathy Hochul to sign Assembly Bill 6295-A into law, which would lower the age of becoming a commercial driver from 21 to 18 years old by establishing a Class A commercial driver’s license (CDL) young adult training program.
This new program would allow 18- to 20-year-olds to become commercial truck drivers by following stringent guidelines and receiving enhanced training. Currently, 18- to 20-year-olds can obtain a CDL Class B license, however they cannot get a CDL Class A license, which allows drivers to operate tractor trailers and other large vehicles.
“Our economy can only be as strong as its supply chain, and at the heart of that chain are our truckers,” said Gallahan. “The demand for commercial drivers is stronger than ever, and it’s a great field for young people to consider, with lots of open positions that are well compensated.”
Within the letter, Gallahan points to a years-long shortage of truck drivers, which existed even before the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. At the end of 2018, the American Trucking Association estimated an additional 60,000 drivers were needed to meet the country’s demand.
Gallahan also argues that by allowing 18-year-olds to enter the industry, it will increase the amount of young people who consider commercial driving as a career path when exiting high school. Presently, by the time young people reach the age of 21 and become eligible to get their Class A CDL, many of them are already deeply involved in pursuing a career path in other sectors.
“This bill would open a new career path to young people, while putting more drivers on our roads to help products and materials get where they need to be to keep our economy growing,” said Gallahan. “So with that in mind, as well as the current shortage of truck drivers facing our state, I urge Gov. Hochul to sign this new program into law without further delay.”