FREEPORT, Ill. (WTVO) — Over the last two years, the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed weak spots in our nation’s supply chain, one of which is a shortage of truck drivers.

In hopes of a solution, Congress is considering a change that would allow teens behind the wheel of big rigs.

“The 18 to 21-year-olds have been able to get their CDL for a long time now. The only difference is that they were never able to go outside the state they were licensed in,” said Joe Grossman, the lead instructor at 160 Driving Academy in Freeport.

Grossman says he supports legislation that would allow truckers between the ages of 18 and 21 to cross state lines.

“They can drive on the interstate, they can drive on all the same roads that they older truck drivers can drive,” he said. “From my experience, they generally perform as well, if not better, than some of the students we get through that are in their 20s, 30s, and 40s.”

Grossman said the hope is that the desperate trucking companies will have a new pool of qualified employees.

“They’re going to be required to do a minimum number of hours with a trained, seasoned driver,” he said. “They’re thinking ahead, and they’re not just throwing them out there.”

Rich Sutliff, who owns Sutliff Trucking in Rockford, argues the law wouldn’t help mom-and-pop operations like his, because insurance companies are unlikely to cover drivers so young.

“You need to be 25, you have to have two years’ experience. That’s the biggest problem. All that rule will help is the big companies,” he said. “I feel they’ll target the young kids, and I don’t think the young kids should be getting sent cross country.”

The head of the American Trucking Association says the industry needs about 80,000 more drivers.