WASHINGTON -- Roadmaster Drivers School in San Antonio is seeing a pick-up in new students ready to take to the roads. 

  • More people seeking trucking licenses in Texas
  • Trucking industry faces new challenges due to coronavirus
  • DMV closures impacting nationwide trucking licensing

“So even in a pandemic truck driving is in great demand,” said Brad Ball, president of Roadmaster, noting some workers are making a career switch after getting laid off.

“While there’s unemployment and layoffs rising, trucks are still moving. We can’t deny that trucks are involved in moving the goods needed in a pandemic every day,” he said.

The trucking industry is facing problems elsewhere in the country, which can mean trouble getting goods and supplies into Texas.

It’s getting harder in many states to train and license new drivers because of social distancing guidelines and closed DMVs. Right now, 27 states have shut down their DMVs due to the coronavirus.

“That’s why this is critical - if you can’t get your commercial learner’s permit, you’re unable to even drive on the road. You can’t start training, you can’t go work for a company,” said Don Lefeve, president of the Commercial Vehicle Training Association.

New truckers are critical to meet the sudden rush of needs because of the pandemic, according to Lefeve, who represents more than 225 training schools across the country.

There’s more pressure than ever on the trucking industry, which carries 71 percent of all freight across the country.

“The citizens of Texas obviously rely on truckers to fill and meet the demands for freight. Particularly at this time medical supplies, groceries,” said Lefeve.

He’s worried that the nation is missing out on an estimated 25,000 to 40,000 new truck drivers from taking to the roads. But he noted that Texas is a bright spot, where licenses are still available.

“We still have to have a base level of drivers who are training and able to respond,” he said.

And Ball hopes that as businesses’ open back up, the needed truckers will be in place to get supplies moving.

“As the restaurants open up and all of the businesses open up, you’ll see a surge in the need for drivers and we’ll be there to help as much as we can,” Ball said.

For more information on trucking permits in Texas, visit:  https://www.txdmv.gov/motor-carriers.

And for more information about commercial driver licenses in Texas, visit: https://www.dps.texas.gov/DriverLicense/CommercialLicense.htm.