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These job seekers are in the driver's seat page 2
Big rig drivers are in demand.

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Date published: 1/27/2013

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Not only that, but they can't apply for the Class A commercial driver's license they'd need until they're 21, and then they usually have to have two years of experience before a company will hire them. Who wants to wait until they're 23 to start a career? he said.

Those who do go into trucking face stricter requirements because of the Compliance, Safety, Accountability program, which the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration launched in 2010. At its heart is the Safety Measurement System, which collects safety data from inspections and crash reports, then weighs the severity of violations.

"Because the scores are made public, carriers are doing what they can to improve their scores relative to their peers and recruit and bring in only the safest and lowest-risk drivers," McNally said.

Payne, for example, hired a full-time trainer six months ago to work with new employees to make sure they know how to operate his fleet of dump trucks. Commonwealth Carrier Corporation, which is in Spotsylvania County, gives new drivers a regular, local route at first to get them trained.

Stafford County-based Hilldrup Moving and Storage has a 16- to 18-month training program for prospective candidates that includes such things as how to pack and move furnishings as well as drive.

"You really have to learn this business. Driving is just a piece of it," said Randy Rantz, senior vice president of operations.

More regulations affecting the trucking industry could be just down the road. The federal government also has proposed changing the rules for truckers' hours of operation beginning in July. Among other things, it would require drivers to take a 34-hour rest that must include two rest breaks, each from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m., before starting a new workweek.

That would result in drivers taking a 40- to 48-hour break instead of a 34-hour break, hinder their flexibility to manage their schedules and increase the number of truckers that carriers would need to hire to compensate, McNally said.

The ATA filed a lawsuit with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia last year that asks the court to block implementation of the hours rule. The case will be heard in March.


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