ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The demand for long-haul truck drivers nationwide is growing fast. A recent federal rule change is now letting people as young as 18 get behind the wheel of an 18-wheeler.

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Antoinette Wallace knows and loves the trucking lifestyle. “My husband’s been a truck driver for 27 years and I’ve gone over the road with him a couple of times and it’s very nice,” Wallace said.

Now, she is in the process of getting her own commercial driver’s license. Soon, her 20-year-old son will start working on his license too. “I think it’s a good opportunity for my son to experience that driving world and actually know what these truck drivers go through on a day-to-day basis,” Wallace said.

There is a constantly growing need for long-haul truckers to try and meet demand. A recent change in federal law lowered the age people can get a cross-country commercial driver’s license from 21 to 18. CNM’s truck driving program is now getting a rush of young applicants. “They’re interested because they can come to school with us, attend a four-week program and obtain this license that opens so many doors and career possibilities,” said CNM Ingenuity’s Shanna Sanchez.

Sanchez said salaries at local companies start around $45,000 a year. National companies pay up to $80,000. While the idea of an 18-year-old behind the wheel of an 18 wheeler may sound dangerous to some, Sanchez says there is now an increased focus on safety and the feds are releasing new safety standards that must be taught to all students.

Wallace is confident in her son and other young drivers and believes older drivers will help them keep learning while out on the road. “I think it’s a good option to fill that gap that we have and get product to where it needs to be,” Wallace said. “They look out for each other. It’s like a big family.”

CNM has several young people in their next truck driving course, starting in a few weeks. For more information, including how to sign up, visit CNM’s website.