New law addresses truck driver shortage in New York

Photo courtesy of the New York State Thruway Authority

Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo and Senator Tim Kennedy announced that Governor Hochul has signed their bill (S.5486-a / A.6295-a) into law, creating a new truck driver training program for 18-20 year-olds. 

New York currently allows 18-20 year old’s to obtain a CDL Class B license to drive within state borders, but these same drivers were ineligible to apply for a CDL Class A license until they are 21 years old. 

The new law — which had bipartisan sponsorship in both houses — allows 18-, 19- and 20-year-olds, under strict training and safety guidelines, to obtain a CDL Class A license in order to drive tractor-trailers and other larger vehicles on state highways. 

According to the American Transportation Research Institute, the trucking industry is responsible for 1 out of 27 jobs in New York state. Due to an aging workforce and supply chain delays and disruptions, there is an urgent need for new drivers, but it is becoming more difficult to recruit commercial drivers. 

The state’s 38,580 trucking companies are mostly small, locally owned businesses. It is estimated that the industry will need to hire almost 1 million new drivers over the next 10 years. 

“New York’s trucking industry is central to our state’s economy, ensuring that products make it to market in a timely manner,” said Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo, D-Endwell. “This legislation will help address the shortage of truck drivers by attracting younger drivers, at a time when many are in the process of choosing their careers.”

The bill had the support of groups such as the Trucking Association of New York and the New York Association of Convenience Stores.

“As New York and our nation build back better after the COVID-19 pandemic, we know employers are struggling to fill positions,” said Sen. Tim Kennedy, D-Buffalo. “For the trucking industry, this problem is compounded by the short supply of commercial truck drivers that has weighed heavily on our nation’s economy and supply chains for decades.”