ADOT helping military truckers transition back to civilian life

In the United States, it’s becoming harder and harder to hire long-haul truck drivers, even though trucking companies are acting on feedback from employees, making the role more lucrative and inclusive. The traditional outline of the job–long hours on the road, days away from friends and family–has changed to meet the demands of the modern worker with more life-work balance.

But even though the job is changing, the industry is facing a shortage of 60,000 drivers right now, and a projected gap of 100,000 drivers in just a few years, according to the American Trucking Association. That sounds like the opposite of good news not only for the industry but for the state of Arizona, which relies heavily on trucks to move commodities.

To help meet this demand, the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) has created a new workforce solutions project that bridges the gap between the need for more truck drivers shipping goods along our highways and getting veterans back to work once they’re back in civilian life.

Military truckers who spent time behind the wheel, moving cargo down unsafe roads, potentially surrounded by enemy fighters or roadside bombs, can use the skills they learned while serving and transfer them into a civilian career here in Arizona. Military truck drivers who receive a clean driving record recommendation from their commander can skip the on-the-road driving test and set themselves up to qualify for an ADOT Motor Vehicle Division military skills test waiver when applying for a commercial driver’s license.

“The main goal is to raise awareness of the skills waiver so that qualifying veterans and active duty military (including National Guard) have the simplest, appropriate path to getting a Commercial Driver License,” Doug Nick, a spokesman for ADOT said. “ADOT is committed to being as efficient and helpful for our customers as possible. Promoting the skills waiver is one way we hope to help address the need for more commercial drivers in the state.”

The military skills test waiver applies to veterans who worked with military vehicles in the last year relative to a commercial vehicle that we see on our highways here in Arizona. Those looking to get a waiver have to put down what kind of vehicle they drove (i.e. fifth wheel, truck tractor, truck trailer combination, single truck) and get a recommendation from their commander in the military to vouch for a clean driving record.

“The waiver simplifies the CDL process by acknowledging the veteran or active duty member already possesses these essential skills, so that portion of the test is waived. That makes the process faster for the applicant who can get the needed credential with less hassle. It also means ADOT can serve these customers more efficiently which helps improve the entire customer service system,” Nick said.

Nick Esquer

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