In this Nov. 30, 2021, file photo, a trucker drives on Interstate 40 near Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Credit: Gerry Broome / AP

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There is a serious shortage of truckers in this country, and if someone has been to any type of store recently, they’ve most likely experienced supply shortages as a result of this issue. That’s why, as the president and CEO of Maine Motor Transportation Association, I’d like to thank Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King for the role they played in developing a new federal apprenticeship program.

This program, which was a part of the DRIVE Safe Act and included in the bipartisan infrastructure law that passed in November, creates apprenticeship opportunities for up to 3,000 young truckers at a time. It has been perfectly legal for truckers between the ages of 18 and 20 to transport goods from Madawaska to Kittery, but illegal for them to do so from Kittery to Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Under this new program, however, young professional drivers will have the opportunity to complete an extensive apprenticeship program that pairs them with an experienced driver in the passenger seat, while requiring other safety protocols and mandatory safety technologies as well.

This program will be critical to bringing up the next generation of truckers in a safe and controlled environment. What better way to learn than with a mentor right beside you.

We are fortunate to have leaders like Collins and King in Washington working to devise common-sense solutions to the problems facing our nation. This program will undoubtedly help alleviate the shortage that has resulted in supply chain disruptions during the pandemic.

Brian Parke

President and CEO

Maine Motor Transport Association