Amid huge shortage, new truck drivers train for some of supply chain’s toughest jobs…

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SCHNECKSVILLE, Pa. — The tractor-trailer lurches into gear. As the student driver turns the wheel, eyes swiveling from left to right, the 18-wheeler backs into a yellow box outlined on the pavement. But the truck’s wheels cross the line, a rookie mistake that could mean a collision on a city street or at a cargo terminal.

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Instructor Matt Hanlon, 53, who’s been teaching big-rig driving for two decades, shakes his head and tells the trainee to pull the Freightliner forward and try again. His brother Mike, 49, the other half of the instructor team here at SAGE Truck Driving School, yells encouragement.

Much of the nation’s $23 trillion economy rides on the back of trucks such as this one. But as the pandemic upends consumer spending habits, there has never been a bigger mismatch between the mountain of freight that needs to be hauled around the country and the number of truckers willing to do the hauling.

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