DUNCAN, S.C. (WSPA) – With truck drivers leaving the industry and the economy expanding, it’s created a shortage of drivers across the country.

Companies are reporting a profitable holiday season, in part due to extended sales and an increase in online shopping. All of this drives the demand for truck drivers even higher, but before you see them on the road they have to take classes to navigate the cones and classroom time.

Recent reports showed that the trucking industry could need more than a million drivers over the next 10 years. That creates opportunities for people like Latasha Pearson. She just passed her commercial driving test to receive her CDL license.

“I passed; I got my CDL today. I’ve been lucky to find this school. I went to one other school and I wasn’t so lucky there, but when I came here it’s like family. They taught me everything I needed to know about truck driving.”

Nick Vyas, executive director of the University of Southern California’s Marshall Center for Global Supply Chain Management, told the Associated Press that the U.S. was about 80,000 drivers short as of last month. Finding a reputable truck driving school is vital to success.

“One of the signs that I would recommend is checking the reviews of the school, maybe companies that work with the school, give them a call and see what their experience was like with their previous students.” SC Works Commercial Driving Academy owner Vitaliy Avramenko said.

Industry officials said driving schools should teach the basics. students should learn about all aspects of the truck, its engine, moveable parts, and how to maneuver on the open road. After passing and receiving a commercial driver’s license, the company should continue that training and connect the new driver with a mentor.

Ji’quan Stover is about to take his truck driving test and said even though he walked in the door with an idea of what to expect, he still had to work hard.

“I actually came from a family of truckers so I kind of had an inside scoop on it. But like they always tell me, that first week of school is going to be a little rough. But you’ve just gotta stick with it and when I came here that first week it was real rough. They threw you out there, they taught us, they put your hands on it, everything. Once it got to stick and the wheels start turning I was good to go.”

Much of the nation’s $23-trillion dollar economy depends on 18-wheelers. Some businesses that are looking for truckers even offer tuition reimbursement for new drivers. Pay has increased over the years, along with more benefits.

“I have some of the instructors that work here that are a little old school, they started as low as 22-cents a mile. Right now trucking companies start at 55-cents a mile,” Avramenko said.

“If it wasn’t for a trucker, you couldn’t get no supplies, no nothing so, they are needed and there is a shortage of them. You need the training, just make sure you get the appropriate training. Come to the appropriate school so you can be safe.” Pearson said.

The White House announced the Trucking Action Plan in December in an effort to attract new drivers and retain existing drivers by expediting CDL testing, creating apprenticeship programs, and recruiting veterans.

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