The business that’s trying to stop the truck driver shortage

As the trucking industry struggles to find viable workers to fill the 51,000 available jobs this year, a relatively new business has cropped up to try solve the problem: 160 Driving Academy, a truck-driving school.

The company was established in 2012, but as the demand for truck drivers has grown, so has 160. It now has more than 32 locations across the country and employs 110 instructors.

“We’re training them for companies, so when they get out of here, they have a job waiting for them,” Lowell Newbold, a lead instructor for the company, told FOX Business’ Jeff Flock on Friday.

On its website, 160 advertises that with a starting salary of at least $40,000, anyone who is at least 21 years old; has no felonies, DUIs or drug convictions with the past 10 years; and is licensed to drive a car can start a “promising career.” And as the shortage worsens, wages continue to grow, with some drivers earning upward of $100,000.

The company finds businesses that need drivers and that are willing to pay full tuition for prospective employees.

In 2016, the industry was short more than 36,000 drivers, according to the American Trucking Associations, which expected that number to surpass 63,000 in 2018. By 2026, it could grow to 174,000. In order to match the demand, the trucking industry would need to hire almost 900,000 drivers by 2026, or about 90,000 each year, the trade group said. In order to receive a commercial driver’s license -- which is required to become a truck driver -- individuals need to pass a detailed driving exam and a written test, scoring at least an 80%. To help students pass, 160 offers 40 hours of classroom training in addition to 120 hours of driving practice on both local and interstate roads.