(WBIR) There is a shortage of drivers within the trucking industry, and an East Tennessee school hopes to reverse that trend.
The Tennessee Higher Education Commission recently approved Peak Technical Institute (PTI) in Maryville to start accepting students into its Commercial Driver Training Class (Class A CDL).
Starting September 8, students will spend three weeks, or 150 hours, in the CDL program.
PTI expects three to four students in its first class. The institute hopes to eventually have about eight students per class. Besides time in the classroom, students will get on-the road experience.
"As soon as they do get their permit, they are going to be driving the tractor trailer," said Greg Dotson, PTI program director and lead instructor.
Dotson is very aware of the driver shortage saying, "The shortage, it's growing every year. It grows every day. Drivers are retiring and the shortage is close to 40,000 right now."
10News' partners at The Tennessean said the shortage could grow to 239,000 by 2022, according to the American Trucking Associations.
Drivers of the baby boom generation are retiring but there appears to be a lack of interest from younger generations.
According to Dotson, while longer hours on the road can be a deterrent, there are more opportunities now for drivers to attract routes that keep them closer to home.
But the trucking industry's image needs work.
"This whole country is revolved around transportation and we should think higher of them," Dotson said.
Pay does not seem to be a problem. According to The Tennessean, the average driver earns about $50,000 a year.
It costs $3,800 to take PTI's CDL program.
For more information, visit PTI's website or call (855) 399-7325.