Alaska West Express accepted into new Driver Apprenticeship Program for younger drivers
Wed, Nov 15, 2023
Alaska West Express is one of only 33 trucking companies in the nation to be accepted into the Safe Driver Apprenticeship Program (SDAP) through the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The pilot program was established to allow drivers with a Commercial Driver’s License between the ages of 18-20 to operate motor vehicles carrying interstate as well as intrastate commerce.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for the trucking industry, especially in Alaska where the majority of the freight is classified as interstate, to recruit employees as they enter the workforce after high school”, says Tyler Bones, Director of HSSE Compliance. “Historically we needed to wait to recruit entry level drivers until they are 21 which gives all other trades a three-year advantage. Now they can start driving when they turn 18 through the apprentice program”.
The process to become a FMCSA SDAP took months of work and the support of multiple Lynden companies. FMCSA requires a company become a Department of Labor approved Apprenticeship Program before it will be accepted into the SDAP. Carriers must also meet safety standards and have commercial motor vehicles with safety technology like an automatic transmission, active braking collision mitigation system, and event recorders (cameras) installed. “Lynden Transport and LTI, Inc. really came through for us on finding a tractor that meets these very specific safety requirements and making it available to us,” Tyler says.
Three SDAP applicants will be starting the apprenticeship this fall. “We are excited to offer this program to the next generation of Lynden employees. If you know of a young adult that is between 18 and 20 and that is interested in becoming a driver, this is a great program for them. We will train them to become drivers for the company and they will be paid through the process,” Tyler explains. Currently the apprenticeship is only offered in Fairbanks, but it may be expanded to Anchorage as well.