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New rules aim to make it easier to get new semi drivers on Michigan roads

More than 80,000 truck drivers needed nationwide
Getting more truckers on the road
Published: Dec. 16, 2021 at 5:52 PM EST
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BLACKMAN TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WILX) - The state and federal governments are working on plans to fix the supply chain and get more truck drivers on the road.

The state legislature sent a bill to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer allowing people with military commercial licenses to transfer that training in for a state license.

The trucking industry is short 80,000 drivers nationwide, and that number is expected to double in the next decade.

Trucking companies in mid-Michigan said they welcome anything to make it easier to get new drivers.

“I really hope because this country needs more truck drivers,” said Jim Sercombe, Sercombe trucking owner.

Sercombe has been driving semis for more than 60 years. Now, he runs Sercombe trucking in Blackman Township with his kids and grandkids.

“My dad a couple of trucks that’s how I learned to drive the trucks. He owned a pop company, a Pepsi-Cola company in Jackson in the early 50s that’s where he got the trucks and I learned how to drive the trucks in the little boy,” said Sercombe.

Stories like his are hard to find on the road these days and that’s putting the breaks on the supply chain.

Truck drivers drive the economy, delivering 71.6% of the things we buy every day.

That’s why Sercombe is hoping Gov. Whitmer will sign a bill into law allowing military training to transfer to a state license.

“I think you could probably fall into it pretty simplified myself. You worked hard for the country, you should be able to get a job that you can probably work hard for your country again and yourself,” said Sercombe.

These new rules won’t fix the supply chain overnight, because it’s going to take a while to get new people here in the driver’s seat.

The federal government is taking steps to cut some red tape for people to get a commercial driver’s license, including setting aside $30 million to speed up the process. It can take a few months right now.

The U.S. Department of Labor also plans to add trucking apprentices across the country. This would allow drivers as young as 18 across state lines, which isn’t allowed now.

Sercombe takes issue with that idea.

“I don’t think we’re ready for the 18 year-olds up and down the west coast, east coast, with the hills and the mountains. You don’t learn that around town,” said Sercombe.

In the end, Sercombe thinks eventually the new rules will help the industry.

“If someone got a bite of it, I mean not everybody is going to like it, but I think you can pull. I mean if you had 10 people apply,” said Sercombe.

So far this year, more than $50,000 new commercial drivers licenses have been issued across the country. That’s more than the last two years, but the demand for semi-drivers has also gone up.

Copyright 2021 WILX. All rights reserved.

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