One of the bills Governor Kay Ivey signed into law on Wednesday lowers the age requirement to get a commercial driver’s license from 21 years old to 18 years old.
“There has been a demand for years," Houston Blackwood said about truck drivers. "And the data will say there will be a demand for years to come.”
You see semi trucks on the road all the time. What you may not realize is that you don’t see as many as you probably should. There is currently a major shortage of certified truck drivers in Alabama.
“It's a tough job and it’s technical," Blackwood said. "You think, ‘Oh, I’m just going to drive a truck,’ but you have to be worried about your load and your stopping distance, and it’s dangerous.”
With the new law, the age requirement to apply for a commercial driver’s license drops from 21 years old to 18 years old. Houston Blackwood said he expects enrollment to increase in the commercial driving classes at Calhoun Community College—which will ultimately put more trucks on the road.
“We have younger people who are wanting to be a driver and know that it’s decent money, there are benefits, there are options for promotions in some companies," he said.
The law is expected to create thousands of new jobs. And local business owners who recruit from Calhoun’s driving program are thrilled.
“They struggle to find good drivers. There just aren’t enough out there," Blackwood said. "So, with more opportunities at younger ages, and increased class sizes, they’ll have more drivers to choose from.”
Blackwood says anyone under the age of 21 will have to go through an approved training course to make sure all drivers are qualified, safe, and reliable.
“So, you won’t have 18-year-olds driving semis without training," Blackwood said.
Before Governor Ivey signed this bill, Alabama was one of only two states that restricted the commercial driver’s license to people who are 21 years or older.
With this new legislation, anyone under 21 will only be allowed to drive in Alabama, and they won’t be allowed to haul hazardous material.
The new law will go into effect in February of next year.