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August 16, 2018 7:00 PM, EDT

Editorial: Keeping the Equipment Moving

July orders for new trailers shattered a record that had stood for 24 years. On top of that, sales of Class 8 vehicles during the month topped 20,000, the second-highest total of the year. And that followed news from last week that July orders for Class 8s also set a record.

We’re thrilled to see this level of optimism permeating the trucking industry. It’s good for motor carriers, good for drivers and good for all of the people behind the scenes who keep the freight moving.

So while it’s clear there’s going to be a lot of new equipment on the road next year, let’s hope we can find enough drivers to keep all of it moving.

A bill introduced Aug. 16 by a trio of Republican senators aims to help increase the available pool of drivers by creating a commercial driver license training program that would prepare drivers under age 21 to operate commercial trucks in interstate commerce. Current law only permits those under 21 to drive intrastate. A version of this bill was introduced in the House of Representatives in March.

We support these proposals and hope they gain traction in Congress. That might be a tall order with midterm elections coming up and a litany of other items on the congressional agenda, but the bills have been introduced, and that’s a start.

American Trucking Associations President Chris Spear and International Foodservice Distributors Association President Mark Allen each voiced support for the Senate bill, according to a joint release from the senators.

Speaking Aug. 16 at the National Truck Driving Championships, Spear said the trucking industry must find solutions now to the ongoing driver shortage, insisting that the industry’s future depends on it.

We would tend to agree. Every industry must eventually tap into a well of new talent to keep it moving forward. Trucking is no different. There are options out there. Younger drivers are one — and a good one at that. It’s likely that many are ready and willing to learn what it takes to join the ranks of the many safe, efficient drivers traveling interstate on the road today.

Let’s hope the nation’s lawmakers give them that chance.