ROCKFORD, Ill. — Veterans no longer must take a written test to obtain a Commercial Driver’s License as long if they operated a large truck in the military in 2016.
Secretary of State Jesse White made the announcement last month, saying veterans should be assisted to “find jobs suitable to their skills and experiences.”
Ron Leek owns the Rockford-based R.L. Leek Industries Inc., which employs 80 drivers. He hopes the written test waiver will be incentive for more drivers to join the declining driving industry and says his company welcomes veterans.
“We are attempting to hire anyone” who is qualified to drive a truck, Leek said. “There’s been a shortage for several years.”
The American Trucking Associations expects a shortage of about 175,000 drivers by 2024, the Rockford Register Star reported.
Mark Sandoval, truck driver training program coordinator at Rock Valley College, said there’s usually a veteran in each of the six-week CDL classes he coordinates throughout the year. He said most veterans get part or their tuition fee paid for through the Illinois Veteran Grant.
Veteran Kelvin Hoss said he’s uncertain if it’s a good idea for Illinois to waive the tests for recently returned veterans. He said tests help refresh memories and reinforce safety on the road.
But Hoss said veterans are a good fit for the industry.
“We’re able to make decisions on the fly, able to deal with potentially dangerous situations without being scared,” he said.