Truck driving schools seeing increase in enrollment during pandemic

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The COVID-19 crisis has created a lot of new students for truck driving schools like Advanced Career Institute. The pay once you pass your test is more than most jobs to start.

"Typically, drivers coming out from school can make anywhere between $45,000 and $55,000 within their first year," says David Bither with the Advanced Career Institute.

But the opportunity to move products up and down highways, across the nation and coast to coast is being stalled out.

At this company alone, 150 students are waiting to take their driving exams. Just four per campus are being allowed to take the test each week.

"As we know, COVID is every day, is a new day for that stuff, so they are coming up with new regulations," says Matt Bither with Advanced Career Institute. "So we're able to tell them, 'Hey, they might open up more regulations and allow us to get students to come in and test.'"

The difficulty is that the demand for truck drivers is high, and there's no shortage of willing and available candidates. Plus the job is flexible and socially distant.

Victor Guerrero recruits truck drivers for Swift Transportation.

"It's hard on the schools and it's hard on us, the companies, because we need the drivers," he said. "We have approximately 18,000 drivers in our fleet but we need another 10,000."

Assemblyman Jim Patterson has been working to try to help streamline the process to get these essential workers on the road, but it's difficult.

"The limiting that the DMV has made is arbitrary," he said. "It basically says we're more interested in our own bureaucracy than we are to the services to those in the necessary to get these truck drivers their licenses and on the road."

To eliminate the major backlog, Advanced Career Institute is pushing for more third-party testing to handle these behind the wheel tests.
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