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February 6, 2017 4:00 AM, EST
Letter: Schools Should Encourage Careers in Trucking

This letter appears in the Feb. 6 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.

Schooling Youth on Trucking Careers

According to a report compiled by the Afro-American Truckers Association, trucks remain the workhorse of the U.S. freight-based transportation network.

Trucks move nearly 65% of the nation’s commodities and [are], by far, the most heavily utilized mode of freight transportation. They haul more domestic products by volume than rail, ship, pipeline and air combined. The industry would be able to increase that percentage if not for the driver shortage, which is occurring at a time when trucking and the U.S. economy are seen to be on the verge of long-term sustainable growth.

Both small and large motor carriers are operating below peak capacity due to, in part, the lack of drivers. These carriers are facing stiff challenges trying to fill empty seats inside truck cabs. Unfortunately, the driver shortage seems to have become a self-inflicted and self-perpetuating problem for too long.

AATA suggests installing the Commercial Motor Vehicle Operation Safety Training Grant program in public school systems — particularly in senior and middle schools. This could forge an educational alliance, where local carriers send representatives to schools to encourage students to consider trucking as a career — as drivers, vehicle technicians, freight brokers, sales people, dispatchers [or] fleet managers. That could include building on-campus sites dedicated to training for these jobs/careers.

This youth-oriented initiative could eventually raise employment rates and possibilities of inner-city stu-dents nationally — especially among minority students, the fastest growing demographic group that is changing the face of the U.S. workforce.

Shakir Muhammad

Afro-American Truckers Association

Alexandria, Virginia