Driving school

Truck driver training program launched at Middleton High School

The simulator training was designed specifically for high school students after the age requirement to drive a truck was lowered nationwide.

MIDDLETON, Idaho — The Idaho Trucking Association introduced its new simulation training program Wednesday at Middleton High School, the first of many planned stops for schools across Idaho.

Simulator training was designed specifically for high school students after the age requirement for truck driving was lowered nationwide, with some restrictions, from 21 to 18. Young truck drivers can now drive interstate, crossing other states rather than being limited to Idaho.

The program aims to train high school students in truck driving protocol, hoping to fill the void left by the national shortage of truck drivers.

According to the Idaho Trucking Association (ITA), there have been 80,000 vacancies nationwide in the trucking industry, including 5,000 in Idaho alone.

“A lot of people don’t understand the full ramifications of the nationwide driver shortage,” said Allen Hodges, president and CEO of the Idaho Trucking Association. “If the driver shortage continues, it will prevent everyone from getting the goods they want in a timely manner.”

The actual simulator allows students to get an in-depth look at what the trucking industry has to offer. Students will be able to experience how the truck feels, including how it shakes on the road, while driving in different road and weather conditions.

Hodges said the organization will take a more active role in meeting transportation needs by visiting students to explain the industry and address some career misconceptions. Safety measures are also discussed with the students.

“Currently over 70% of all cargo is shipped by truck,” Hodges said. “For example, when you buy something on Amazon, it’s first trucked to a warehouse and then sent out for delivery.”

Eventually, Idaho would like to partner with high schools to offer training for a commercial driver’s license in technical career programs like California and Wyoming currently do, Hodges said.

Middleton High School was specifically chosen because of its proximity to farming communities. Vice Principal Brooke Webb said having the simulator on campus will be a great opportunity to explore career options.

“Hands-on experience can ease some worries and build excitement for students looking for career options,” Webb said.

The ITA received a grant from the Idaho Workforce Development Board to purchase the simulator with the intention of taking it to high schools, the cost of the simulator being $175,000 .

Safety is a priority, Hodges said, and the simulator would be available for hire to members to hone defensive driving skills and other safety-related measures.

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