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New state law allows younger tractor trailer drivers in NY

Published: Dec. 2, 2021 at 4:12 PM EST
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - The country faces a laundry list of shortages, including truck drivers transporting goods. A new state law looks to fill the need in New York by letting younger drivers behind the wheel.

There are still tractor-trailers on the roads, but state Senator Pattie Ritchie says there aren’t as many as there used to be.

“We are short 80,000 truck drivers across the United States, and it’s up 30 percent since the pandemic,” said Ritchie (R. - 48th District).

A newly signed state law aims to address New York’s needs by opening up the Class A commercial drivers license to people 18 to 20-years-old.

They’ll be able to operate a tractor trailer, but only in the state.

Ritchie says she introduced similar legislation in 2017 after learning a local company was hurting for drivers. She’s happy something’s being done about it.

“It’s great to see that for once, a problem that I’m seeing in my district is getting solved,” she said.

But she knows there are concerns about drivers so young behind the wheel of a truck so powerful.

“That is probably one of the reasons why it took this long,” said Ritchie.

Retired truck driver David Edgar is on the fence about the idea.

“Your schools are good, I’ll say that. But, you still have to have experience getting out there and that’s the thing right there. With a person 18 years old, it’s hard to say,” he said.

The state’s law requires training, including lectures and at least 300 hours of behind the wheel experience before getting the Class A CDL. Tha.

“I’d say it’d be alright,” said Edgar.

The New York State Department of Transportation still needs to hammer out the framework of the training, but the goal is to get it rolling in 2022.

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